Espaliers and Fans

Furthest to nearest – our espaliered apple (worcester), fanned peach (peregrine) and espaliered pear (conference)

One of the earliest tasks we set ourselves when re-generating the veg patch was to grub out the hedge at the bottom of the garden. This turned into a mammoth task which we ended up needing professional help with. Chris, our local landscaper and his little Kubota made short work of removing the forty-year-old privet and we were amazed that in doing so we gained around three feet of garden.

Trellis topped Larch-lap panels were erected in place of the rotten post and wire boundary fence we discovered hiding in the old hedge. Whilst we liked the look of this new fence it needed softening and help to blend in with the rest of the plot and, most importantly it needed to be productive.

So what to do with the long narrow space we gained?

Our side of the fence was South-South-East facing so it was in the sun almost all day which led us to think about grapevines, however, mum and dads previous experience growing grapes in our climate resulted in bitter fruit and even if we got better results what were we going to do with all those grapes?

Plan “B” was fruit trees. We had seen pictures of espaliered trees that looked really attractive, and I found a Royal Horticultural Society book called “Pruning and Training” which described and illustrated the techniques for creating espaliers and fans in detail. The only problem was that it would take several years to achieve the final result.

Nevertheless, we decided that fresh fruit would be a good addition to our harvest and I set about erecting posts and espalier wires a foot in front of the new fence. Getting the post tops and wires level across the 30′ run was somewhat challenging, but an old fashioned water level helped achieve the desired result.

With five wires at the shorter end and six at the taller, an additional anchor was attached to one of the middle posts to fix the sixth wire. Fence strainers provided the required tension, and bamboo canes were attached as required to provide further support for the trees as they grew.

The final touch was creating some “faux” raised beds to wrap the base of the trees and adding some solar lanterns matching others used in the rest of the garden to the posts.

It took a few years to coax the trees to grow as we wanted, but the final result was worth the wait and the fruit was a tasty bonus.

My only problem now is that Henke and Mya, the horses who live next door, like to nibble the fruit and leaves over the top of the fence!