Today Diggers ran a workshop on how to espalier. I was all set to go to it – even toddled off and purchased some citrus to espalier – but left making a booking too late and the workshop was full.
Since I now have four citrus plants (and a dwarf apple) that will need to go into the ground sooner rather than later (and definitely sooner than the November workshop which was suggested to me as an alternative) it looks like I’m going to have to rely on good old Google to work out how to espalier.
I know the rough mechanics of it – you train some of the branches of a tree to grow in a particular direction, and harshly prune off all the others – but given that I’ve got something resembling a black thumb, I think a bit more background checking is probably in order. Especially since I succumbed to the cheaper full sized citrus, rather than the dwarf variety, which means that if I get it wrong I’m going to have some GIANT trees on my hands!
Google informs me that there are an insane number of different ways that one can espalier.
Some of these espaliers are beautiful, especially the Belgian fence style, but I suspect I will fudge most of them up. Instead I’ll be using the horizontal T and (in order to not mix up the varieties) I’ll be training the plants along alternate horizontal lines.
Gardening Australia informs me that when constructing the structure against which the trees will be espaliered I need to make sure that they are sturdy. My plans currently are to use some star pickets well dug in, but I haven’t yet decided whether I will run wire between each of the pickets (I always have trouble getting the wire to straighten out) or whether I will be purchasing some sturdy wire mesh. Given that Gardening Australia also recommends that the supports be 30cm apart, I think the wire will win, but I’ll keep you informed.
Flemings have got a great pdf guide to espaliering. They recommend trying to keep the design simple (such as the horizontal T design) until you’ve worked out the basics of espaliering. Though it also claims that the Belgian fence design is suitable for beginners…ooh that’s tempting!
There’s also some information there about how exactly to execute some of the simpler designs. For instance:
Now I just have to get around to ripping out all the roses that are in the way of where I want my espaliers to go.
I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Do you espalier? Do you have a favourite style?