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A pear tree espaliered into a cordon. The picture was taken in the garden of the Cloisters in upper Manhattan
A horizontal espalier

Espalier is the horticultural technique of training trees through pruning and grafting in order to create formal "two-dimensional" or single plane patterns by the branches of the tree. The technique was popular in the Middle Ages in Europe to produce fruit inside the walls of a typical castle courtyard without interfering with the open space, and to decorate solid walls by such trees planted near them. Evidence exists suggesting that the technique dates back much further, perhaps even to ancient Egypt. The word espalier initially referred to the actual trellis on which the plant was trained to grow, but over time has come to be used to describe the technique.

An espalier collects almost as much sunlight as a regular tree, yet has far less mass. This makes them ideal not only for decorative purposes, but also for gardens in which space is limited. They may also be planted next to a wall, which can reflect more sunlight and retain heat overnight, or be planted so that they are facing the equator and absorb maximum sunlight. These two facts allow an espalier to succeed in cooler climates, where a non-espaliered tree of the same variety would fail. They also mature fruit more quickly. Certain types of trees adapt better to this technique than others, although any fruit tree will theoretically work. The branches of the plant must be long and flexible. Examples of trees that take well to espalier are olives, figs, apples and pears. Peaches, plums, apricots and cherries can also be grown flat against a wall.

Contents

Espalier forms

A vertical cordon fruittree
  • Horizontal: Branches grow horizontally out of one central trunk
  • Palmette or fan: Branches grow in a fan-shaped pattern
  • Cordon: The tree resembles a menorah
  • Belgian fence: Weaves a string of espaliers into a fence
  • Baldassari palmette
  • Lepage espalier
  • Verrier candelabra
  • U double
  • Drapeau marchand

Related tree shaping techniques

Biodegradable binding tube is often used to train trees into patterns

See also

Gallery

References

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Notes

Bibliography

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ESPALIER (a French word, derived from the Ital. spalliera, something to rest the spalla or shoulder against; the word is ultimately the same as epauliere, a shoulder-piece), a lattice-work or row of stakes, originally shoulder high, on which fruit trees, shrubs and flowers, particularly roses and creepers, are trained. Espaliers are usually made of larch or other wood, iron and metal rails being too great conductors of heat and cold. The advantage of this method of training is that the fruit, &c., is more easily got at, and while protected from wind, is freely exposed to sun and air, and not so open to extreme changes of temperature as when trained on a wall. (See HORTICULTURE.)


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