The space restrictions of urban lots often lead people to believe that they cannot live in the city and have their own fruit orchard. The art of espalier changes that by training dwarfed fruit trees to grow in a plane along a fence or wall.
Dating back to training figs trees in Egyptian times, but popularized by the French and English in the middle ages, this technique is extremely well suited to urban fruit production. By growing fruit trees in a plane along a wall they only take up a few feet, add beauty to an urban landscape, and can produce larger than normal fruits in a greater abundance pr square foot than with standard free form fruit trees. By using dwarfing rootstock in combination with espalier training trees can be maintained in a plane at only a few feet high. This makes them an option growing fruit in even the most limited spaces.
We first saw espaliered trees a few years ago, used as boarder for a vegetable garden, at a winery in the finger lakes wine region of NY. We were both memorized by the beauty and artistic form of growing trees in this way. The photos included here are espaliered apple and pear trees from that garden in the finger lakes. One of our projects for 2010 will be adding espaliered fruit trees to our edible landscape.