An example of espaliered trees against a wall in Los Angeles
Earlier today, we noted that today's Home and Garden
includes a piece on Pearl Fryar, a master of the topiary form. Another garden art we've always loved is espaliered trees. Like topiary, it's a careful pruning of trees. But, unlike the sculptural 3-d topiary, espaliered trees are two dimensional. Coincidentally, it turns out that this ancient technique is not only perfect for a small space garden, but eco-friendly as well. If you're considering turning your decorative garden into an edible one but don't have room for a far spreading fruit tree, it might be time to look into this garden art...
Espaliered trees are usually grown against a wall or trained to form a natural fence. Grown against a wall, the stone's natural absorption and heat retention qualities work to both mature the espaliered trees faster and to enable the trees to survive in colder climates than normal. Almost any plant can be espaliered by continually directing growth along one dimension and pruning away material which grows in other directions although it's a common technique with fruit trees, especially pear, fig and apple. There are many classic forms and patterns including u-shapes, verticals, horizontals and angles. For an in-depth look at espalier trees, including a look at the six most common styles and an examination of which styles work best with which variety of fruit trees, click here