“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Dan Millman, The Peaceful Warrior
I was introduced to Pearl Fryar one evening after work. While chasing channels, I ran across the opening credits of a documentary called “A Man Named Pearl.” Utterly intrigued by the idea that a man would be named Pearl,
I watched in earnest. In the opening scene this very tall man stood atop an even taller ladder to trim a tree, and it became obvious that Pearl is a larger-than-life figure.
Positive Growth from Negative Seed Planting
In 1976, Pearl Fryar moved with his wife and children from Clinton, North Carolina, to Bishopville, South Carolina. When he found just the right house to buy, the real estate agent told him the neighbors were concerned that Pearl wouldn’t “keep up the yard.” The reason for their “concern” was outrageously clear: Pearl Fryar is an African American man, and all the neighbors were white people who did not want an African American family to live on their street.
A man of faith, Pearl turned the other cheek–and then some. He found a nice, quiet spot where he built a house for his family. He then set about to win the coveted prize for Bishopville Garden of the Month. His first stop was the local nursery where he chose several plants from a bunch of plants the nursery owner was throwing away; with these very plants Pearl began creating his garden. From that point on, he was a hard-working husband and father by day and a driven artist by night: He worked full-time at the American Can Company to support his family, and after work he created an amazingly abstract topiary garden–the likes of which Bishopville residents had never seen.
Actually, many of the techniques Pearl applied to his plants had never been seen by anyone, not even horticultural and conservation experts. Over time, he gained notoriety in the region. Eventually people from all over the country–and the world–flocked to see his gardens in Bishopville, South Carolina. Conservation organizations began sending interns and experts to learn from Pearl and to help greet the public. Plans have already been made to maintain and preserve these gardens after Pearl can no longer care for them.