Gardens have always been important, not only for the chance to be in touch with nature and grow your own produce, but also for showing off one’s status. If you are one of the Downton Abbey fans, you know how many of the tea party scenes take place outdoors in the beloved gardens. Typically Edwardian in style, their walls are elegantly decorated with espaliered pear trees. Despite the fact the series ended, worry not, as you can still pay Highclere Castle Gardens a visit and get inspired for your garden by the designs.
Though it gained popularity in France (hence its name) and England among wealthier families, espalier was first used in ancient Egypt. The name has Latin roots and it means “to rest the shoulder against something”. This technique of growing and pruning trees got its name because of the process involved. The growth of trees is controlled to get the wanted size and shape. It can be compared with the Japanese technique for bonsai trees.
The primary reason for using this technique was to get juicier fruits in a bigger quantity and in less space, however nowadays the artistic purpose is more accentuated. Your garden can be turned into a creative place just by adding an espalier. Espaliers are ideal for small gardens exactly because of their size. Your first step to making your own, is to choose the tree you are planning to plant. All sorts of fruit trees can work, but the most popular are citrus trees due to their structure. Fortunately, there are many trees you can choose from to make your very own espalier fruit tree to your liking.
To make sure your tree grows well, you have to provide the proper conditions. First and foremost, choose the location. Ideally, it could be a spot which has sun exposure of at least six hours per day. Along with this, you have to pick what the tree would grow against, since support is crucial here. Usually, they are grown against walls, but it can also be a fence or a trellis. Height and width depend on your preferences, as you do the shaping, so you have to mark the wanted measurements. This gives you the opportunity to create even dwarfish trees, if your spatial requirements need small dimensions. Remember, the younger the tree, the easier it is to train it, and it is advisable to do the planting in mild conditions for a better result, before blooming season starts.
When you purchase your espalier fruit tree, you have to make sure you spread the root right when planting. Because it is a process which demands more training in the first few years, you have to have some sort of material to secure branches horizontally so they can grow the way you want them to, but it has to be something that will not damage them. You could do this by wiring. Some branch may be uneven so always check and nip it in the bud (pun intended).
What makes espalier fruit tree desired is because they take an ornamental role in your garden along with making picking fruits an easy task as you would not be in need of a ladder. Do not be surprised if you see some naturally growing espalier-like trees, as they say: nature did it first.