The art of espalier is the training of trees or shrubs against a flat surface, usually against a wall or a fence.   Espalier fruit trees are perfect for small or large gardens.  Today I have some simple tips to follow to create and grow your own espalier tree for your garden or patio.

Espalier tree

Image | Disorganised

Variety of Tree

Apple and pear trees are mostly used to create an espalier tree.  You you can train and grow other trees too, such as any ornamental tree, lemon or lime trees and flowering cherries or crab apple trees.  They make a stunning display in your garden or patio along a side fence or a courtyard wall.

Citrus trees are also very popular espalier trees, they are evergreen and are relatively easy to train, lemons and limes are among the most popular citrus trees.

 

lemons Image | Pinterest

Position

Select a sunny spot for your new espalier tree, a north facing position is perfect.  Apples and pears are the easiest fruit types to train.

A timber or wire fence is a suitable place for your tree, but be aware that heat reflecting from a brick wall, metal fence or water tanks may damage the tree from heat in the hotter months. Espalier tree

 

Image | I Garden Daily

Design

Espalier trees can be found at your local nursery and they are usually trained onto a trellis and clipped back to a ‘flat surface’ like the one above.

If you prefer to train your own tree there are many designs to choose from, I love this simple design of the espaliered apple tree above.  As the tree grows bigger I find this simple design is not lost in the growth of the tree’s foliage and fruit.

The easiest pattern to follow is a simple horizontal espalier, where the plant is trained on three wires .  Whatever style you choose for your espalier tree you need to prune it regularly.

Limes

 Image | Beautiful House – Bowl of Limes

Pruning and Training

Creating an espalier can take a long time to establish your tree into the shape you have chosen.  Plant your tree and remove any branches which cannot be fitted into the pattern.

As branches meet the wire or support they can be trained to run along that wire.  Tie them gently with garden ties about every 20cm.  Be sure to check their growth to loosen the ties or replace with new ones as the tree grows. The aim of espalier is to produce as much fruit as possible along the branches.

For any further information on Espalier trees Flemings Nurseries has a handy information guide.