Enchanting Espalier

Gardener:Somerset Sue

Date:30 Sep 2022

Blog Type:Recipes

An orchard has always been one of my dreams.

Unfortunately our budget has never extended so far as to own a property large enough for a dedicated orchard.

When we bought our current property (which is by no means large, just a suburban plot really), we thought a little outside the square to realise my fruit tree dreams. Our section has a lot of fencing which stretches along a driveway, around some lawn area and behind our vegie garden.

We bought an apple and two pears and decided to espalier them along the fence even though we knew absolutely nothing about the art of espaliering. We first planted a cooking apple named "Belle de Boskoop" in the corner of our vegetable area and trained it's small branches on either side of the corner.

We then planted two pears - Red Bartlett and Packhams Triumph along the fence by the lawn. None of the trees we bought were specifically bred for espalier, we just chose ones that looked as though they might work and trimmed them accordingly. Within the first two years they had begun to show some promise and all bore a couple of fruit. 

From there we went to our driveway lawn and planted two apples against a low north facing fence - Sturmer and the wonderfully named Peasgood Nonsuch. Since then we have planted a Nashi Pear, another Packhams Triumph and a Monty's Surprise Apple.

We are thrilled with the results. It sounds daunting but espaliering is not really difficult - you just need to trim rogue branches and ensure plenty of support for your branches.

We don't use wires, we hold the branches up with large cable ties which SH staples to the fence. We make sure these are replaced regularly to ensure we're not strangling the tree. In the growing period we will do a check, trim and re-tie of our espaliers at least once a month to make sure they're all secure.

The picture is of our Packham Triumph last year, it is only 4 years old - we had a bumper crop of these and our Red Bartlett which I bottled.  I preserve them on their own and also buy golden queen peaches when they are cheap to bottle with the pears as fruit salad. We are not huge raw apple eaters so the apples I have chosen to grow are mostly cookers which I freeze for apple sauce and baking. 

If you have never tried espaliering and are short on space - I highly recommend giving it a go.

Enchanting Espalier