Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thinking in Another Dimension - Espalier

I’m trying to squeeze a few more dwarf fruit trees onto my small lot. I’ve been studying how many hours of sun is available in each potential spot and trying to figure out where I can put them where they will get enough sun and not block out the sun for something else, and where they will not get tripped over. Sometimes you can think about something too much and miss the obvious. North Country Maturing Gardener a fellow blogger helped me see the solution differently. A tree does not have to be three-dimensional. Actually it can be two-dimensional. Well not 2-dimensional in the true mathematical sense, but very flat, not roundish as we usually think of trees. Training trees in this manner is called espalier. It is practice of controlling the growth of the tree so that it grows relatively flat against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis. It’s great when space is limited and can often take advantage of a warmer microclimate close to a building or brick wall. I had not realized that I have an idea situation for this. The front of my house faces south, southeast. If I espalier trees to the front of my house, they will get almost full sun and will shade nothing except the house. The house is brick so I won’t have to worry about trying to paint the house around the tree. Now I just have to decide on the variety and size and pattern.

I actually found a photo I took in my archives of an example of espalier. It’s early in the season and I don’t think the tree on the left is fully leafed out so you can get a good look at the branches. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Lumembourg Garden, Paris France

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