L’esprit d’espalier


I love fruit trees. I love the blossom in spring. The fruit in summer. I even love the knobbly bare branches in winter. But with such a small backyard, fruit trees are going to be an issue. We have three dwarf citruses already – lime, kaffir lime and lemon, which I intend to keep small. And I think I’ve got a spot where I can stick an apricot tree. There’s the pomegranate out the front. But I want apples.

The problem with apples, is that you really need more than one, for pollination. And I definitely don’t have room for two apple trees.

Bu then I started to do some reading about espalier.


Espalier is a very old (possibly thousands of years old!) technique of training a tree against a flat surface. Sometimes it’s in a fancy pattern, sometimes not (although the fancy ones are gorgeous, I think I prefer a slightly more natural shape). It turns out that apples are one of the most common and easiest things to espalier, because they have such whippy, pliable branches.


So once our big ugly asbestos shed comes down, we’ll have a big long stretch of bare fence. With espaliering, you can plant trees much closer together. I could probably squeeze five trees in, but I think I’ll be sensible and go for two or three. Except the area won’t be ready to plant til the end of the year, and apple trees are best planted in winter. So it looks like another year before I can start my espaliering adventures.


One thought on “L’esprit d’espalier

  1. I love espaliered trees. In Sydney , before we went bush I had two Tahitian Limes espaliered on the fence line. The examples you have posted are beautiful.

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