For nearly 20 years, Fryar has pruned and twisted and coaxed not only boxwood and yew, the staples of topiary, but also holly, fir and even loblolly pine. Mostly geometric or abstract, Fryar's topiaries start modestly at the curb, then swirl in dizzying patterns around the house he shares with his wife and adult son. Transformed shrubs, resembling a gaggle of chessmen, seem to march up the driveway; trees reach for the sky in arrowhead shapes 30 feet high. Water burbles in Fryar's homemade fountains.
Now retired from his engineering job at a can factory, Fryar, tall and slender at 68, devotes most of his time to his topiaries. Using gasoline-powered shears that leave a velvety finish, he trims each plant every four to six weeks. Special projects, such as turning a lollipop-shaped live oak into a square tree with a topknot, can take years.
As word has spread about Fryar's free, open-to-the-public garden, people from all over have found their way here, sometimes by the busload. The Garden Conservancy, an organization devoted to preserving gardens, adopted Fryar's last year, and a documentary film, A Man Named Pearl, opens this summer. Fryar's credo—"Love, Peace & Goodwill"—not only suffuses his work but is carved into the lawn.