One warm south-facing wall for espalier -- what to plant?

jayco(5b NY)May 2, 2013

I've got a number of apple trees in my zone 5b/6a NY garden. I also have one warm south-east facing wall (cedar siding) against which I've been toying with the idea of another fruit tree, espaliered. How difficult would it be to grow plums, peaches, apricots, or sour cherries? I'm an amateur so I'd likely go with whatever is going to be easiest, as I think all these fruits would be delightful to have fresh. I'd also appreciate variety recommendations. And finally, how difficult is it to espalier? I have a book and it looks pretty straightforward, but I know books have the tendency to gloss over many real-world issues. Thanks for any advice.

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I looked into a berry tree that had already been... espaliered?... by my local nursery. When asking about it the lady told me it was very difficult to do and took a lot of time and care. I don't know if this is true or if she was just busy and didn't feel like getting into it, however it did keep me from buying the tree. I know that information doesn't help much, but my main point was that I believe you can buy them already espaliered from your local nursery and they could tell you how to maintain the look. :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 4:34PM
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jayco(5b NY)

Thanks. But I wanna do it myself! If it's too hard, I'd probably just try something else.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 4:55PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

It's better to train your own espalier than buy one for two reasons, first a trained espalier is going to be very expensive and second a young bare root tree (or vine) planted and trained in it's permanent home will be stronger and healthier in the long term.

I'm in a totally different climate but I'm also planning an espalier area, so I've been doing some research. The difficulty of espalier depends on the form you are trying to create, it's usually advised to start with the easier ones before trying those that are more difficult. The form you train the tree to depends somewhat on the type of tree, because stone fruits bear on second year wood you have to take more care with training and a fan shape is most recommended. Pears and apples are supposed to be the easiest trees to espalier, but you could also plant a grape vine. I suggest you look for a fruit that is easy to grow in your area and well suited to espalier, is there a good nursery you could go to for advice?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 10:55PM
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Seems that you could plant and train several possible fruits on that one wall. But given that you only have that one S wall, I would think you would use it for some fruit which would be marginal or impossible elsewhere for you due to your climate.

What is that you've been wanting to grow but can't because your location is too cold?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 11:22PM
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jayco(5b NY)

I would be happy with any of the fruits I mentioned. Pear would also be good, but my understanding is you need three varieties to pollinate well, and I don't want three pear trees. I would probably pick peach but I think that might be the most difficult. I guess I'm just attracted to espalier and thought it would be fun to give it a try.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 12:37PM
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peachymomo(Ca 8)

Then give it a try! I suggest you find out which of the stone fruits you listed is the most trouble free in your area and get some of them, then train them in a fan shape. Follow the instructions in your book and you'll probably end up with delicious fruit and a beautiful piece of living art.

Here is a link that might be useful: ecouraging espalier article

This post was edited by peachymomo on Fri, May 3, 13 at 17:05

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 4:59PM
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I had part of my backyard landscaped for a "kitchen garden" by a professional landscape contractor. I opted for the expense because it was a steep slope and required terracing (very hard work!). In addition to the raised planters for a row of dwarf citrus and a row of vegetable beds, I requested fruit trees to be espaliered against an open framework wrought iron fence in full sun at the bottom of the slope. He suggested apples, pears, peaches, apricots(I think). I told him I was thinking semi dwarf Asian pears alternated with semi dwarf sweet cherries. He said the Asian pears were a good choice, but that the cherries would be more difficult to train as they have a strongly upright growth habit. But he agreed to plant them as requested because I had my heart set on sweet cherries.

It's been a year and a half since then. The landscape contractor was right--I should have listened. The two Asian pears (Hosui and Twentieth Century) are so easy to train with their easily bendable young branches, and they are both fruiting nicely. The cherries, however, are proving more challenging. If I don't train the young branches quick enough while they're still pliable, they quickly stiffen up and threaten to break if I start bending them sideways. It's do-able, but takes more work and attention. In retrospect, I should have gone with Asian pears and apples. Semi dwarf peaches should be easy to train to espalier.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 2:51PM
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