Exquisite Espaliers—March 2009

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Conifer Evergreen espalier New espalier planting Susan #1 New espalier planting Susan #2 Palmette verrier espalier Espalier Longwood
Cherry fan espalier UBC Espalier wall Longwood Vibunum espalier Chanticleer Vine espalier Yew espalier

Conifer evergreen espalier

Evergreens or conifers can be trained into espalier patterns. This single specimen Atlantic blue cedar espalier is a striking focal point in front of a tall Arborvitae backdrop.

A lovely redhead was mourning the loss of her husband named Mark. So, she decided to commemorate him with an apple espalier on the way to her car every day. This before picture shows the bamboos in place for training the scaffolds and a distracting cone tuteur.

Three years later, in an east-facing site, the monogram espalier “M” is fully grown; apples were eaten the following year.

It is hard to photograph espaliers unless the scaffolds are in a clear pattern and the laterals have been pruned correctly. Happily, at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden in Vancouver, BC, this Palmette oblique pattern apple is easy to capture. In late August, the fruit are dropping to the ground and can be eaten by garden visitors.

Longwood Gardens is justifiably famous for many things, not the least of which is the espaliers. Here, an otherwise dour cold grey wall comes alive with several espaliers. A garden writer admires the maintenance pruning on the triple U patterned apple espalier.

A fan pattern espalier stands in front of grapes pruned for fruit production. The espalier is at least a decade old as judged from the trunk diameter. However, the ribs of the fan are much younger. This espalier was probably renovated two years earlier, growing the lighter colored new branches. New growth is more fruitful. Keeping the espalier to its pattern and getting fruit is the challenge.

This conservatory at Longwood Gardens uses Prunus espaliers grown on a wire fence to create intimate rooms in an otherwise massive building. This design technique could also be used outdoors to create “garden rooms” where fruit could be literally picked off the walls. Such a fence is open to air movement and filters out little sun.

This espalier at Chanticleer, a Pleasure Garden in Pennsylvania is a Viburnum. It adds depth and detail to a border with only two other species of plants. The sharp edges of the wall are softened by the leaves. Chanticleer is a must-go espalier destination because many different espalier patterns and species are used to exquisite effect.

Vines can also be used for espalier as long as they are given a framework to attach upon. This rectangular pattern suits the beautiful vine in fruit. The display adds height and depth to a flower border at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. Monet used apple espaliers amid a flower bed at world famous Giverny to the same effect.

These garden writers look at two examples of espalier on a brick wall in Connecticut. Notably, the evergreen espalier, or wall shrub, on the left is a yew or Taxus. There is a limited depth to the yew, as well as a flat goblet pattern. The espalier on the right is a gorgeous vine.