Sunday, February 23, 2014

Espalier, Decorative and Functional

We have a huge concrete block wall holding the bank of soil above our driveway. I'm thinking of growing some fruit trees against the wall which I can espalier. I usually prefer informal gardens but my location seems to lend itself to this type of treatment. I don't want any plants grown there to encroach into the driveway since we need every bit of space to turn cars around.

The technique of espalier was perfected by the French as both a decorative and functional method of growing fruit trees. Trees are usually grown against a wall to take advantage of reflected light and heat to extend the growing season and ripen the fruit. Various patterns are used to make the structure pleasing to the eye.

We're all probably familiar with espaliered grape vines but there are so many other varieties of shrubs, trees, and vines which can be espaliered effectively.

Below is my concrete wall, a blank canvas for my ideas. It's about ten feet tall and thirty feet long. There's about a four foot section of earth where I can start the plants. What do you think? A pear tree, a peach, an apple or two. Do you have an espalier? Do you remember seeing one in your travels? What did you think?

I noticed nurseries are starting to get bare root fruit trees stocked. We shall see how far I get with my idea in this regard. Apparently it takes a lot of patience to achieve this type of treatment and several years as well. For more espalier photos click here. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. There are espaliered fruit trees along the walls of the Walled Garden at Biltmore Estate.

  2. That will be beautiful! So many people plant vines that then take over and often deteriorate the structure they grow on. This is so much nicer, although I am sure a lot more work to achieve.

  3. You have found the perfect spot for espaliered trees. if you go with fruit you will have a great visual and great eating too!. I have visions of a peach tree on the wall!

  4. I think that would be spectacular!!!

  5. Hi Marian, thanks, I haven't been to the Biltmore but bet the gardens are worth visiting.

    Hi Michele, thanks, I did think about some vines or climbing roses but I think the espalier will be nicer and easier to keep in check in that location.

    Hi Suzi, thanks, oh peaches would be perfect since it is Georgia after all. lol

    Hi Turqoisemoon, thanks, we shall see how long it takes to get it accomplished.

    Hi Andrew, thanks for stopping by and enjoying the greenery inspirations.

  6. Your wall looks like it's begging for an espaliered plant!

    I've seen a few over the years and they can be really spectacular. I'd just recommend picking a species that does well in your area (and specifically in the conditions where you'll be planting it), since you want it to grow well enough to make a statement in a few years.

    Heck, I've even seen southern Magnolia espaliered in Louisiana!

  7. I love how the different patters look. Makes you think about surface decoration for sure.

  8. Beautiful photos. Such variety. I vote for peach or pear. My Idaho house has a blank wall where I'd like to try something like that as well.

  9. Hi Lori, thanks, yes gardening and ceramics have some overlap don't they. Ha.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, I think edibles are a good idea as home grown is so much better and less costly then store bought.

  10. I saw dwarf So. Magnolias espaliered on a brick wall and they were so elegant looking. I am not sure, but I think it was somewhere on the UVA campus. I am sure Jefferson would approve.

  11. Hi Les, thanks, amazing that they can espalier magnolia, yes Jefferson would approve for sure.


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