Espalier is a beautiful and functional way to grow fruit trees. In our video, Tricia talks about the techniques needed to prune and train an espalier. This type of tree training dates back to ancient Egypt, and was also practiced by the Romans. The practice was refined into high art in 17th century Europe. Espalier is a French/Italian word for "something to lean against." In modern use, it means the tree, the trellis, and the act of training the tree.
Espaliered fruit trees and plants may be time intensive to maintain, but they repay you in high fruit production in a fraction of space. If you're considering adding an espalier to your garden, the first step is planning! Choose a tree or shrub you find beautiful and appropriate for a wall or fence you'd like to fill. Typically, plants that are free standing, with side shoots and branches that produce fruit, vines or flowers. The area will need enough room and air circulation for horizontal branches to grow. For example, a pear tree can grow up to 10 feet tall, and 7 feet across.
Espalier forms are usually divided into two styles: formal and informal.
Informal espaliers are much more free form and can be bent to any shape as long as they are trained to height and width. Informal espaliers may not need a trellis to support them.
Let your imagination grow wild! To make your work easier, choose naturally fanning branches.
Gradually use branch bending techniques to fill out the overall plant shape.
Formal espaliers follow a very defined pattern, although each pattern has multiple names and variations. These shapes are sure to garner attention in any yard. Formal Fan
Big blank wall of a house? The formal fan is perfect.
The formal fan creates beautiful leading lines to draw the eye to a
focal point such as a fountain or statuary.
The palmette oblique gives you the desirable leading
lines of the formal fan in a taller, narrower package.
Instead of an unsightly board fence, grow a Belgian fence
for a privacy screen
Forget the photinia and grow an attractive, productive
hedge with the drapeau marchand espalier form.
Tiered Horizontal Cordon
This is an easy formal espalier form ideal for
creating a living fence. There are many variations of horizontal cordons.
Create a form with one, two, or three tiers of horizontal cordons.
Imagine a single cordon with more vertical flare, and you have
this striking form. Use it along a fence where more vertical fill is desired than
horizontal cordons can provide.
Similar to the candelabra form, but more upright in form.
Use the palmette verrier for those tricky, narrow areas, or for an alcove.
Think of it as a cross between the upright palmette verrier
and the spreading can. For the adventurous gardener.