The art of espaliering

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A frame for Trachelospermum jasminoides or Star Jasmine being used as a screen.
A frame for Trachelospermum jasminoides or Star Jasmine being used as a screen.
LAST week, I discussed growing dwarf or miniature fruit trees in containers for confined spaces such as townhouse gardens or even the balcony in units, provided they are in full sun most of the day.

Alternatively, consider espaliering fruit trees either with wires fixed to a wall or a free-standing frame with horizontal training wires as shown.

Illustrated here is a frame, in this instance for Trachelospermum jasminoides or Star Jasmine as a screen.

A wide range of fruit trees including citrus, figs, Kiwi fruit and even persimmons as well as ornamental plants such as roses and clematis can be espaliered.
It is interesting that when we talk about fruit trees, for some reason, citrus are generally treated as a separate category. One important point with fruit trees is they must be small to start to train into an espalier form.

Many folk of the several hundred who visited our open garden recently saw our espaliered apple and pear trees and our magnificent Rosa “Zephirine Drouhin” on a north-facing wall. Obviously, it was not in flower at this time but I did have a large photo of it in full flower. This climbing rose is thornless and has the most superb fragrance.

In flower  and creating a “wow” factor was Camellia sasanqua “Hiryu”.  This provides a dense, evergreen privacy screen over two metres high with the flowers beloved by the nectar-seeking honeyeaters.

This was originally espaliered on wires placed horizontally 30cm apart on the galvanised fence posts. Now they are well established and self-supporting.

Espaliered fruit trees, as the miniature fruit trees mentioned last week, are easier to net against birds and possums.


A glorious example of espaliering against a wall.
A glorious example of espaliering against a wall.
I do not recommend training fruit trees on wooden lattice screens. Even treated pine lattice has a relatively short life, plus I prefer not having any edible crops near treated pine. This can be partly overcome by being painted, but how to you regularly paint the lattice once the espaliered plants are well established?  Another idea, which I have used when lattice is important as a screen, is to use metal lattice. This can be powder-coated in a wide variety of colours and will never need repainting, plus it will not warp or twist out of shape. More expensive than timber, but in the long run is it?



It is manufactured locally with a variety of hole shapes and sizes by CanFab at 88 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick, call 6280 6300.

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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