Growing fruit trees in unique shapes through espalier is an ancient technique that is gaining popularity in modern times. This technique involves training fruit trees to grow in a flat plane, along a trellis or wall, uniquely and decoratively. Espalier not only adds aesthetic value to your garden or orchard but also maximizes the production of fruits in small spaces. In this article, we will discuss the art of espalier, how to grow fruit trees using this technique, and the different shapes that can be created.
What is Espalier?
Espalier is a horticultural technique of training fruit trees to grow along a wall or trellis. This method not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your garden but also helps in fruit production. The fruit trees are pruned and trained to grow in a flat plane along a wall or trellis, which allows for better sunlight penetration, improved air circulation, and easy access to the fruit.
The History of Espalier
The technique of espalier dates back to Roman times, when fruit trees were trained to grow along walls for decoration and fruit production. In the Middle Ages, European monasteries started using espalier as a way to grow fruit trees in limited space. The art of espalier reached its peak in the 17th and 18th centuries in France, where it became a form of art. Today, espalier is a popular technique used by gardeners all over the world.
Why Grow Fruit Trees Using Espalier?
Espalier has many advantages, including:
- Fruit trees can be grown in small spaces, making them ideal for urban gardens or orchards.
- The technique allows for maximum sunlight exposure, resulting in better fruit production.
- Espaliered fruit trees are easier to prune and maintain.
- The flat plane growth of the fruit trees makes harvesting easier.
How to Grow Fruit Trees using Espalier
Here are the steps involved in growing fruit trees using Espalier:
Step 1: Choose the Right Fruit Tree
Not all fruit trees are suitable for espalier. The ideal fruit trees for this technique are those with flexible branches that can be easily trained, such as apple, pear, peach, and plum trees.
Step 2: Choose the Right Location
Choose a location that receives plenty of sunlight and has a sturdy wall or trellis. The wall or trellis should be strong enough to support the weight of the fruit tree.
Step 3: Plant the Fruit Tree
Plant the fruit tree near the wall or trellis and make sure it is well-secured. Use stakes or ties to ensure that the tree is in the right position.
Step 4: Prune the Tree
Prune the tree to remove any unwanted branches and shape it according to the espalier design you want.
Step 5: Train the Tree
Use ties or wires to train the tree to grow along the wall or trellis. As the tree grows, adjust the ties or wires to ensure that it is growing in the right direction.
Step 6: Maintain the Tree
Regularly prune the tree to maintain its shape and remove any dead or diseased branches. Fertilize the tree and water it regularly.
Different Shapes of Espalier
Many different shapes can be created using Espalier, including:
This is the most basic form of espalier, where the fruit tree is trained to grow along a horizontal plane.
In this shape, the fruit tree is trained to grow in a fan shape along a wall or trellis.
This shape involves training the tree to grow along several horizontal planes, resembling the shape of a candelabrum.
A Belgian fence involves training the tree to grow in a crisscross pattern, resembling a fence.
In this shape, the tree is trained to grow in a diamond shape along a wall or trellis.
This shape involves training the tree to grow in a low, flat plane, resembling a step-over.
Espalier is a horticultural technique that not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your garden but also helps in maximizing fruit production in small spaces. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully grow fruit trees using the espalier technique and create unique shapes in your garden or orchard. With a little patience and dedication, you can master the art of espalier and create a beautiful and productive fruit tree.