Monday, July 5, 2010

Espalier: Gardening for the Extremist Fanatic

While Greg is off doing extreme rides, I still ride without him of course, but I'm much more inclined to take the opportunity to lose myself in a little extreme gardening. Five years ago I started putting in fruit trees. My entire property, including my 600 square foot cottage, is 40' x 50' so I have to be very mindful of the amount of space each plant takes up. In addition to the vegetable gardens, which are planted in the easement between the sidewalk and street, I have managed to squeeze 18 kinds of fruit (trees and vines) into this miniscule space. This is only possible because most of the trees are trained as espaliers. Not only is espalier a blend of art and gardening that is well suited to my creative bent and obsessive nature; it also keeps the trees two-dimensional, trellised up against either a wall of the house or a fence, where they are manageable, small, productive and especially beautiful. Even living humbly and making a verrry small footprint on the planet, you can still grow your own food and create an outrageous garden that never leaves you wanting for something to prune and play with.

apricot in 2008
From dirt & dogs

same apricot, a couple years prior, with only two lateral branches and two vertical leaders destined to become the next tier in the design
From dirt & dogs

same apricot when it was just a brand new little bitty baby in 2005
From dirt & dogs


a green gage plum that doesn't look too exciting right now
From dirt & dogs


It was originally in a big pot under a window...
From dirt & dogs


... destined to look like this
From dirt & dogs


...but I've since moved it to the ground and changed its design so that it is now well on its way to looking something like this (from Lee Reich's The Pruning Book):
From dirt & dogs


Honey Sweet pear 5 years ago
From dirt & dogs


...now about 2/3 of the way toward its ultimate design:
From dirt & dogs


Espalier is typically, traditionally trained on a fancy, expensive trellis system that consists of horizontal wires that are strung taut between big bolts drilled into the supporting wall; I'm doing fine with a schmo-tech version that implements cattle panels as trellis and things like rocks hung from branches to pull them down into position where I don't have or want the visual of the trellis. And I like this funkier look so much better than the official, "nice" trellising system. Here's to humble but effective gardening!
From dirt & dogs

~trina

3 comments:

  1. That is really amazing! Definitely takes some forethought, which I'm awful at when it comes to actually growing anything. But I really like how completely beautiful things grow!

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  2. Yes, forethought... which is challenging in gardening - I frequently plant something and realize it doesn't really work in that spot and end up digging it up later and moving it... like the green gage plum. Espalier also requires a LOT of patience which I find even more challenging than forethought!

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  3. спасибо за подробную методику создания перманентных посадок, с удовольствием изучила материал

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