Espalier is a means of controlling the woody growth of, usually, fruit trees and training them in a two-dimensional way. The branches are pruned and then trained against a wall or along trellis or wires.
This restricts the growth and aids food production – walls retain heat overnight, maximum sunlight is absorbed when the branches are trained separately along wires.
It is a practice which has been in use for hundreds of years. A vertical main stem, the central leader, supports horizontal tiers.
A cordon consists of a single stem, usually grown at an angle, with spurs on which the fruit is borne.
A fan has a short trunk with stems trained in an arc.
When an espaliered tree has only one tier it is called a stepover tree and looks good edging a path in a vegetable garden.
Once the tree has filled its allotted space, new terminal growths should be cut back in late spring.
These restrictive forms of fruit growing are time-consuming but highly decorative – they look very well against the end wall of a house for instance, especially in the Spring when they are in blossom.
I am delighted to see so many of the old walled kitchen gardens of big estates being renovated and it is here that you are likely to see a variety of fruit trained in this way.
If you have such a walled garden near you, Spring is a great time to pop along and see if they have espaliered fruit trees looking at their best in flower, or later in the season loaded with fruit.
Very beautiful garden !
Thank you Christiane – in fact the photos were taken in two other gardens as well as my own.
I loved this post and I really liked the stepover trees. How wonderful to have that surrounding a vegetable garden! I wish……….
Thank you so much Karen.
I had stepovers in one of my gardens and they looked lovely throughout the year.
Oh wow- I’ve only seen that method for grapevines. I had no idea you could do it with other fruits! I definitely want to try this in our garden. I love the seventh photo SO much- MUST have that someday!!
Works really well for fruit – same principle as grapes I suppose. The thing is to get good strong supports in first.
I started one espalier last year and plan to start another this spring.
Great news – what are you growing – pears? apples?
It is a Honey Crisp apple tree. Still very much a work in progress. The first year I was only able to select 3 of my horizontals and there were so few leaves I didn’t top the tree yet.