Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC

When I moved back to South Carolina from San Francisco in 2009, one of the marvels of which I had heard much tell was the legendary topiary garden of Pearl Fryar. After meeting him twice in the last year, and, embarrasingly, feeling like an idiot for not having seen his garden yet, I decided that it had to become a priority.

This past weekend, I finally made it to Bishopville for a visit with my dear friend Mary, who was in town from Morocco.

I first became aware of Fryar's odd, beautiful brand of genius at Moore Farms in Lake City, where boxwood hedges are carved into asymmetrical shapes, a tiny bit like these.

These are really fun to brush past and watch them wiggle.

Pearl is a bit of a celeb. For one thing, he has been featured in a fancy John Deere commercial, along with Jenks Farmer, who was the horticulture manager at Moore Farms (and thus the person who introduced me to Fryar's work).

Also, there is a full-length documentary film about Fryar, called A Man Named Pearl. It's lovely, and you can stream it on Netflix, last time I checked. People come from all over the world to see this garden.

Fryar was just honored by the S.C. Arts Commission with its coveted Verner Award, one of those big, statewide, lifetime achievement in the arts dealios.

It's not hard to see why.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

City Roots Farm to Table Dinners

Finally made it to one of the "Getting to the Root" Farm-to-Table Dinners at City Roots urban farm in Columbia, SC. It was excellent! And charming.

Born out of the Outstanding in the Field model of lush, chef-driven menus served at long, lovely banquet tables in the middle of a field, this series has been thriving at City Roots since ramping up over the last couple of years under the leadership of City Roots Co-Founder Eric McClam and The Southern Greenie, Vanessa Driscoll.

Men, meat, and fire. Caw Caw Creek pork chops as thick as your fist.

Formerly called The Harvest Dinners when it was co-founded with 116 State chef/owner Ryan Whittaker, the event is now a partnership with Kristian Niemi of Rosso Trattoria and the soon-to-open Bourbon Columbia restaurant on Main Street. (Read Jeff Wilkinson's feature on Bourbon in The State newspaper.)

Guest chefs pop in, like the upcoming June dinner with the rad Mike Davis of Terra.

The Nose-To-Tail Dinner series, run by the same folks, recently featured heavy hitter chefs like Alex Suaudom du Monde of Baan Sawan and Tim Peters of Motor Supply.

Having had plenty of time to iron out any inevitable newbie kinks, they've got it on lock with these dinners. I recommend!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ham Loaf in the Kitchn with The Shop Tart

The other night, my friend Anne invited me over to help her cook something absolutely horrible from a 1977 Southern Living cookbook.

Read her post about our grody, grody dinner on national food site, The Kitchn (part of Maxwell Ryan's very cool Apartment Therapy brand):

The green beans were so foul, but it was my pleasure to prepare them.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Walking garlic steps out at last

Walking garlic is so cool. The stalks grow pop-tops, which sploosh out a spray of baby sproutlets, which then grow into long stalks from there. Gets loopy.

This is from back when I was doing flowers for Motor Supply Co. Bistro in Columbia, SC. I've since turned that over to one of my heroes, flower farmer Donna Mills of Floral and Hardy Farm in Lexington, SC -- the only flower farm within hours of the Midlands. She sells at Soda City Market on Saturdays.

I had cut the garlic stalks, above, out of my friend Jenks Farmer's yard. He is an amazing horticulturist whose plant collection is pretty much Beyond. He hosts really cool events out at his farm near Augusta/Aiken in Beech Island.

Took the little bulblets from the top of the stalks, and planted them over a year ago. Was kindof ho-hum there for a while. Then the other day, I noticed that my tops were popping. Sweet!

Thanks, Jenks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Vintage type glassware and ConvergeSE hero worship

I have a precious two of these juice glasses (also marked with ounce and cup measurements) that belonged to my paternal grandfather. He worked at a Midlands appliance store called Cate McLaurin way back in the day.

Yep, in the background, that's a copy of the inaugural issue of Modern Farmer magazine, which is truly fan-flippin-tabulous. Kudos to my bro Reyhan Harmanci, 2nd in command on the masthead. W00t!

After meeting Field Notes founder Aaron Draplin while running the logistics for the ConvergeSE digital design conference last week, I find myself noticing more vintage business promo typography than ever before. (He admitted to hoarding such things while on tour around the US.)

This is Draplin, btw, giving a keynote presentation on the stage we designed.

The decor concept: Congaree Swamp takes over the technology conference. We had cypress knees made of wood, chicken wire and sheet moss, with a 12-foot tall tree commissioned from artist and Tapp's Arts Center co-director Billy Guess. Congaree is the only National Park in SC, and at 20 minutes from downtown Cola, it's the closest to a city of any National Park in the country.

Also on that stage? (Brace yourself for more hero worship.)

Josh Higgins, Obama's Design Director for the 2012 campaign.

Higgins talked about the 125-page brand guide they developed for all of the visual communications materials for the campaign, great backstage moments with the POTUS, and other awesome marketing nerd stuff that was a delight for me to hear.

It's been a good week at Flock and Rally HQ. Can't wait to get our new Draplin-designed South Carolina iconography poster framed. Printed by The Half and Half!