Espalier Fruit Trees
If you are looking to buy a fruit tree for a small garden, or a narrow space, then espalier fruit trees may be the answer. Popular for many years in Victorian gardens (we are talking about the era – not the state) they are now making a comeback in both courtyard gardens and suburban blocks, both as ‘space savers’ as well as landscape design element.
Citrus trees are particularly popular, they are evergreen and are relatively easy to train, lemons and limes are among the most popular.
With this form of growing fruit tree we are basically pruning and training the tree to grow on a ‘flat plane’ rather than as a rounded tree. It can be a very formal arrangement with a symmetrical pattern, or a little more informal, this is up to the gardener.
The important thing to consider is that an espaliered fruit tree will need similar growing conditions to a normal tree, so a citrus tree will still need sun and a well drained soil.
How to do it
The easy way
Espaliers can be found for sale in nurseries, usually trained onto a trellis and often basically clipped back to a ‘flat surface’. This is fine if its what you are after, you will need to plant into the ground, or a ‘pot up’, and you will need a larger trellis as the plant grows. After this its a matter of pruning back any growth that grows ‘out’, or tying back to to the trellis. Remember that we want a ‘flat plant’ not layers of growth. The olive tree pictured below is an example.
A more ‘formal look’
What we are looking for is structure, so we choose to grow on wires, and we choose stainless steel because an espalier in a long term project and we want the supports to last. The wires need to be tensioned and strong. You can of course use other methods of support including trellis.
Supporting wires should be evenly spaced 30 – 40 cms depending on the type of fruit tree and the ‘look’ that you are after. Look for a tree in the nursery that has a nice even structure, leading growth on each side that is evenly spaced.
Planting is as normal and then the pruning begins, select the side growths that you wish to ‘espalier’ and leave the central leader at this stage. Tie back the side growths that you have selected and remove any that you do not need. Use the types of plant ties that are adjustable so that as the plant grows it is easier to adjust position. Leaving the leader and your selected growths, remove the rest with sharp clean secateurs.
Espalier Fruit Trees are available for sale from the following participating suppliers
Field grown tree nursery, providing a full planning & implementation service, over 90 species and 25 years experience. Specialising in Maples, Oaks, Ash, Pistachia, Dogwood, Birch, Pear, Honey locust, Plane Elm and many more!
55 McDougal Rd Neerim South Victoria 3831 PH: (03) 56281507
Advanced ornamental trees and garden designs and concept plans. Direct to your property combined with specialist knowledge and outstanding service.