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Sounds strange doesn’t it, but it is the word to describe a form of tree, more so fruit and shrubs pruned to shape. When I suggest this to clients for their gardens the response is,” sounds expensive”. Sometimes they are, especially if you purchase one already trained from a nursery, however it is very easy to do on your own. I recommend a good book on pruning and training of trees and shrubs or google espalier that should get you started.

The reason for this blog is to tell you that I decided to ad a few espaliers to the garden. The two new additions will go in the vegetable terrace just outside the kitchen door. Here we container grow all our vegetables because space is an issue I thought this was the best way to handle our fruit needs. After I choose the two trees of dwarf varieties, red delicious apple, ( Malus – Delicious ) and pear – Harrow sweet, ( Pyrus-harrow sweet} I needed to choose the containers they would be planted in. This would mean a container that could with stand our sometimes cold winters and be big enough to sustain root growth for many years.

The area they are to be trained to grow in is narrow and there is a wooden walk way with a rail on the south-facing wall of Acorn Cottage, I plan to grow them on this rail, making the space more decorative and useful. For us over the years our trees have grown in and the only really sunny spots for vegetables is now close to the house and being empty Nester’s our vegetable needs are fewer in numbers, so container kitchen gardening is great.

With great care I choose trees that are straight and that have several lateral limbs and as luck would have it they are also bearing some fruit. I have placed the two matching pieces of fired pottery in front of the rail support posts and filled the base with some crushed stone for good drainage. The soil I will use is a good mix of compost loam and sand, however a good potting compost mix would work as well. You just don’t want soil that will hold too much water for long periods of time, for if the winter is very cold the pots could freeze solid and crack and could suffocate the roots and kill the tree.

At this point I will attach two bamboo poles half way up between the posts and rail to train the first two limbs tying them to the poles and will train the upper two limbs to the rail creating a double T shape, I will finish by removing the center lead and other unwanted limbs to create the flat horizontal look that is so typical of espaliers, thus the job is complete.

I look forward to years of fresh apples and pears, and am now thinking of other walls and spaces to train other specialty trees on with different shapes for interest. That means new-found space to plant in and with Father’s Day coming another trip to the nursery, YES!

A thought; Sometime conforming is necessary for the means.


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