Grit

TRAIN A TIDY FRUIT TREE

Espalier is a strange topic. Either you’ve never heard of it, you’re too intimidated to try your hand at it, or you’re obsessed with it. There isn’t much gray area on the subject.

Those of you in the first category may be wondering: What is an espalier, anyway? At its most basic, an espalier is a small fruit tree or bush trained to grow flat on the side of a building, along a fence, or as a fence or screen. Technically, espalier (ess-PALL’-yay) is the method of training the tree into growing in a flat form, not the tree itself. But most people call the whole thing an espalier, a bit like a bonsai tree. Espaliers are typically found growing against medieval castle walls, in estate conservatories, or in the backyards of Master Gardeners. You could make the argument that a grape arbor is a kind of espalier, although most espaliers are more structured and formal.

Espalier is fundamentally a formal training style, but because the basic materials are living woody plants, there are almost as many patterns and forms as there are espalier. The form you choose can be as rigid and formal or as whimsical and fantastical as

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