Monday, December 13, 2010
We looked at the property twice before closing, once in the high heat of summer and once in its waning days. Both times Paul and I alternately fought our way through the chaos of vegetation and tiptoed our way around "dog mines" on our quest to see the fruit trees and berry patches in the backyard.
It wasn't until the ground was frozen that I decided it was safe to explore the grounds on my own, so I can't exactly wonder that I hadn't seen this espalier before the day Robin and I guarded the burn pile.
It's a curious location for this Golden Delicious apple tree, but the fascination of finding an espalier prompted me to discover the benefits of training fruit trees along a fence or against a wall. After a little reading, I'm eager to find other locations around the yard and give it a try.
One obvious benefit is that it's easy to reach the fruit on an espalier, but it also seems that it will produce more fruit as an espalier; instead of the tree spending its energy on branch growth, it concentrates more on fruit production.
An espalier takes up less room in a garden, so more of them may be planted, and even in small spaces and corners a person can reap a bounty of fruit.
Any fruit tree may be trained in an espalier, but stone fruits such as peaches and cherries are better suited for a more natural, informal pruning into a 2-dimensional shape.
It takes a few years for a fruit tree to get established, and we would have to prune off any fruit that it puts out during that time, but harvesting and putting up the fruit would be well worth the wait.