We often hear about fruit trees in palmette, palisade or even espalier, without knowing exactly what it is all about. So let’s take stock of this form of fruit tree that is obtained thanks to a very particular pruning technique, dating back it seems to Antiquity, and which has many advantages. Let’s also see which fruit trees lend themselves more specifically to palisade planting.
Espalier, palissade, palmette: kezako?
A fruit tree that has been specially pruned so that it has a architecture plane is said fruit tree in espalier, palisade or palmette. This is how we name a row of trees cut in this way and we trellis along a wall which is also called espalier. Another solution consists of stretching, between posts, horizontal iron wires on which the fruit trees are trellised to form a fence, along a path for example. We then speak of culture in counter-espalier.
We can identify several types of espaliers: single, double, horizontal, oblique palmette, fan, Baldassari, merchant flag, double U, single U, or even the candelabra glass espalier, merchant flag, Lepage… Some shapes are no longer very commonly given to fruit growers today except by a few seasoned amateurs. Be that as it may, an assiduous and gifted gardener can even have fun giving each shrub the shape of a letter, for example, in order to deliver a welcoming message to visitors.
Of course, to avoid errors and wasting material, it is better to contact a ironworker in order to have bespoke trellises and D’buy already formed fruit trees in palm leaves by specialized nurserymen. In any case, it is much better than going blind.
Palisade, espalier or palmette fruit trees: advantages
One of the great assets of palisade or espaliered fruit trees is their small footprint. You can therefore have a real orchard even if you only have a small piece of land. But this is not the only advantage offered by this type of culture as we will see below.
- Reduces the size of fruit trees whose branches are specifically pruned and guided in order to maintain a linear shape.
- Facilitates the maintenance of shrubs.
- Promotes aeration of the heart of the antlers.
- Facilitates the fight against diseases and insect pests.
- Allows the fruits to benefit from a maximum of heat because the wall stores it but also from light since it is reflected by the espalier (wall).
- Allows faster fruit set.
- Makes possible the cultivation of old and rare fruit species or specific fruit trees in a specific climate first unsuitable. This may be the case ofdelicious actinidia north of the Loire for example, since its fruits can only ripen properly if there is sufficient sunshine and heat.
- Significantly increases fruit quality.
- Makes harvesting easier.
- Makes possible the creation of a very narrow gourmet hedge, which is judicious when you have little space.
- Hides an unsightly wall.
It cannot be denied that planting fruit trees in a palisade or espalier brings a highly decorative note to the garden.
Fruit trees: which species lend themselves best to the palisade or espalier form?
It is quite possible to trellis your orchard with espaliered fruit trees of any species. However, very experienced gardeners are well aware that some are more suitable than others, namely those whose branches are naturally flexible et long enough. That works :
- At the pear tree,
- At the apple tree,
- At the Kiwi Tree (Actinidia deliciosa),
- In the fig tree,
- At the mulberry tree,
- In the vineyard,
- Apricot tree,
- At the fisherman’s,
- At the cherry tree,
- At the cherry tree,
- At the plum tree.
However, pay attention to the orientation of the espalier wall because fruit trees have very different needs in this area.
- Wall exposed to the North: cherry tree, pear tree.
- Well shaded wall exposed to the West (which therefore does not heat up too much): cherry, sour cherry, apricot, apple.
- South facing wall: Kiwi tree, peach tree, pear tree, vine.
Beware of walls that become very hot during the day as they can lead to early flowering of certain shrubs such as the apricot tree. However, spring frosts are frequent in many French regions, and can seriously reduce harvests if the flowers suffer from frost. This is why it is preferable, for example, to install your apricot trees along a wall which is above all not exposed due south but rather to the west.
As can be seen, planting espaliered fruit trees requires good knowledge of the plant world and the size itself because you have to be able to maintain them. Gardeners who have been practicing for a long time do very well especially if they are extremely rigorous and have time to devote to their fruit trees because they require a lot of maintenance to keep their shape. It is a size that can only be practiced with a real know how.
Admittedly, an amateur gardener can quite make reams when he receives instructions from a professional and strictly follows the rules to be respected. But this is not given to everyone. In case of difficulties, the task can quickly become a chore. It’s a shame because gardening is above all a source of peace, and for many people it is a hobby they cannot live without. It should therefore be remembered that fruit trees planted in espaliers require special attention, and it is above all necessary to know where to install them in order to benefit from them. The advice from an expert are therefore essential.