Established espalier

Most of the drawings and photographs I have seen of espaliered fruit trees are at the initial stage, showing how to start. So when I saw established examples of espalier in England, I photographed them.
freestanding horizontal espalier1. The freestanding horizontal espalier. You can see clearly the advantages of a two dimensional plant. Good air movement will reduce disease. It is easy to tend the plant and the fruit all receives equal sunlight. You can also see that the supports are heavy duty. This is not an exercise to be done with a few bamboo stakes and stockinette ties.
The cube2. The cube requires some heavy duty framing but is quite stylish, even if I was worried by the top branch that was trained back on itself. Using a frame which gently rusts as it ages will make it less visually intrusive than the tanalised pine we often favour in this country. It is the plant shape you want to emphasise, not the support structure. This design allows good air movement through the centre of the tree.
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????3.The diamond row was visually the strongest in terms of pattern. I raised my eyebrows at the potential rubbing of bark where branches cross. Stem damage can let disease into the plant and a rule of thumb in all gardening is to avoid crossed branches. Presumably in an intensively maintained espalier, you are replacing the branches regularly with fresh growth so there is a bit of leeway if this is the look you want.
???????????????????????????????4. There is little doubt that your fan-shaped espalier will look better if you clad the fibrolite garage in old brick veneer and casually pose a stylish, vintage, terracotta forcing pot in front. The advantage of espaliering against a wall is the increase in heat for marginal crops. We don’t need to do it for apples and pears in this climate but I can see that it could work well for figs and some of the stone fruit.
???????????????????????????????5. I have mentioned trendy stepovers before – the training of an espaliered fruit at knee level. This is a dry climate technique and where rains are light and misty. Our torrential downpours will cause rain splash and spread disease faster than you can blink. We need maximum air movement and to be above the splash line in our humid climate. That said, you can see disease in this example. I have yet to see one which remains at step-over height all growing season.
???????????????????????????????6. These table and chairs are obviously not yet established. I offer them as an idea without comment, secure in the knowledge that regular readers will know exactly what my personal opinion is likely to be. However, for those who like a little novelty in their garden, here be they. I even recorded some instructions for you.
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First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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