We are very excited about a new project. The art of Espalier (ess-PAL-yay).
The art of espalier is all about selectively pruning and training to a desired shape
The horticultural and ancient agricultural practice of controlling woody plant growth for the production of fruit, by pruning and tying branches to a frame. Plant are frequently shaped in formal patterns, flat against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis, and also plants which have been shaped in this way. Espaliers, trained into flat two-dimensional forms, are used not only for decorative purposes but for border control.
We saw this in Europe about 10 years ago and just saw it again in both Mt Vernon & Williamsburg. While there, we kept seeing a low fencing that had a living tree wound through it. As I bent and inspected it, I realized they were fruit trees! I was sold and we bought 10 trees.
The limb training is beginning. You are able to pull them closer to the fence once a month as the limbs adjust to the bending. You prune any new branches that sprout and end up with only 4-6 good limbs per tree.
Our new fruit trees (apricots, plums and peaches) are training to grow low to the ground and down a fence row. The tree limbs become part of the fence. It is not only decorative, it is practical. It is amazingly beautiful in the spring bloom and a wonder to see as the fruit grows and matures into the summer. The trees yield a little less fruit, but higher quality fruit with more intense flavor and more beautiful color. It is easier to regulate the nutrition to end up with amazing fruit!!
I have talked Brad into creating Poire Prisonniere with one of our pear trees. This process is growing a pear in a bottle. You place the tiny pear ball into a bottle and suspend the bottle in the tree. The pear will grow and mature in the bottle. When ripe, you snip the pear from the tree and just fill the bottle with strong brandy and let it age. You end up with a wonderful pear Brandy (with the pear in the bottle).