This weekend I planted four espaliered apples along the back of the kitchen garden, infront of the greenhouse main bluestone walk lined with boxwood. This part of the garden, which was all weed trees and weeds chest high four years ago, is still in the re-building phase, even though you might think that the photos make it look rather fancy, if I stepped sideways or turned around, you would see the mess......maybe I should do that for a posting...show the reality of the place! It's a little embarasing.
Training fruit trees into classic and simple forms for beauty or space, is an ancient art perfected by the French in the 17th Century. In the 17th Century, 'espalier' originally referred to the frame or trellis on which the plant was trained. Today, espalier refers to both the two-dimensional tree or shrub or the horticultural technique of actually training the plant. My first exposure to espaliered trees came at a young age, when I was working at a private estate while in high school. Espaliared pear trees, not unlike my new set up, were planted in Mr. Stoddard's boxwood garden she called the Williamsburg Garden, a tiered, formal boxxwood planting which enclosed small plots of vegetables for her kitchen. We mostly grew herbs and Romain lettuce, if I remember correctly, but the one thing I did remember was her two rows of espaliered pears, which never became ripe in time for me to enjoy, for I had to return to school in the fall. ( clearly, I am not over it yet!), But now.......
I will have my own fruit harvest!!! This time, appled. Winter Banana and Cox' Orange Pippins anyone?
It doesn't matter where one lives, you could have espaliered trees......All you need is a wall, or a fence, or construct a structure like this one in Australia.
Image from Sydney Morning Herald, Australia ©Cheryl Maddocks
Even in Japan, or Germany I have seen amazing espaliered forms of fruit trees and other woody plants, trained into classic 'espaliared' froms or even in simple rows, for the main reason is space reduction, even though they look beautiful to the eye year round. This is an economical way to both add structure to you garden and to add to your harvest. Add in blossoms in the spring, and a nifty hedge, and it's clear that this is a 24/7 hit.
Classic Espaliered forms can be found in many vintage books on gardening
Even Martha Stewart has Espaliered trees....but a few more than I do! check out her blog posting from last week....