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Trellis (Espalier) Fruit

Walls can bear fruit! Yes... the cultivation of espalier fruit is centuries-old. It requires, however, expertise, lots of care, and really belongs to the domain of enthusiasts. The person who is prepared to not only invest time, but also to overcome setbacks, should go for it! Read on to learn about the are of cultivating fruit on you trellis, and which fruits are possible... 

Espalier fruit (pear) on a wooden facade
Grapes

Grapevine

For some southern flair

Pears on an espalier

Pear

The most common espalier fruit

Apple espalier for house and garden

Apple

Better suited for an open area

Espalier Peach

Peach

For sunny walls

Apricots on a house wall

Apricot

For grapevine climate

Espalier quince

Quince

Lovely and low-maintenance

Cherries on a house wall

Sour Cherry

Even on north-facing walls!

Actinidia - perennial climbing plant

Kiwi

Healthy and vitamin-rich 

Kiwi-berry as a substitute for kiwis

Hardy ('mini') Kiwi

Alternative to the true kiwi

Fig fruits

Fig

Mediterranean Fruit

Rubus fruticosus - two year climbing plant

Blackberry

Evergreen and aromatic

Raspberries on plant supports

Raspberry

Free-standing plant support

Espalier Fruit for Walls -- General Information

You only have a small property, yet you still want to grow some fruit? Or are you eager to grow that special variety that you've only found in your grandfather's garden and never in the market? In both cases, espalier fruit are a solution. Either for your house or backyard wall, here is a little orientation...

Espalier Fruit: on a wall or free-standing?

If you would like to cultivate espalier fruit on a wall or facade, seek the advice of a specialist and/or read thoroughly about the subject. The choice of the right fruit and even the right cultivar is crucial for success. The fruits shouldn't be ready for harvest right when you are on vacation, or when the same fruit is available for cheap at the market anyway! And then there's the maintenance of the tree... Fruits cultivated on a free-standing trellis in the garden aren't as sweet, are fewer, and reach maturity later in the season, but will also require less work. This can be an easier and more practical alternative to facade-grown fruit.

Espalier Fruit on Walls

Why should fruits be cultivated next to a wall anyway? A sunny wall creates conditions that fruit trees otherwise only find in southern countries. The wall is protected from the wind, and the stone walls accumulate warmth in the day to the benefit of the vegetation. Many types of fruit trees thrive in these conditions if they have an adequate water supply.

Requirements

By carefully selecting the cultivar, you can find a fruit for any wall. As a rule of thumb: grapevines, pears, and peaches profit from the blazing sun even at midday and can be grown on hot south-facing or west-facing walls. Apples, cherries, plums, and apricots prefer not to be 'baked' in this way. They quickly lose their aroma and tanginess (acidity). Apricots then bloom too early and become susceptible to  late frost. Partially shaded walls are sufficient for these fruits. Undemanding summer pears and cherries even thrive on shady north walls!

Difficulty

Fruit trees require more or less optimal conditions to thrive on a wall. The following fruit trees are listed from most difficult to less difficult (to grow as espalier fruit): late grapevine, late winter pear, late winter apple, peach, fig, late autumn pear, real kiwi, winter apple, early grapevine, peach, early autumn peach, autumn apple, blackberries, apricot, summer pear, sweet cherry, summer apple, sour cherry. If winter varieties are grown as espalier trees, however, appropriate storage conditions must also be available! 

Gallery

Examples of espalier fruit on wall; please click on the photos...

"Blue Trollinger" is a demanding, ancient table grape for the wall garden.
"Palatina" is a new, fungus resistant grape variety from Hungary.
"Roter Gutedel" is also a very old grapevine, and needs correspondingly more care.
Espalier pears were often a main feature in aristocratic fruit gardens.
Espalier apples were also part of almost every Baroque wall garden.
Quinces are a specialty amongst wall-grown fruits.
Peaches are very sensitive and need much water and warmth.
Apricots on trellises need to be protected against early blossoming; otherwise the fruit sets freeze to death.
Cherries can also be cultivated on walls and trellises!
Blackberries grown on walls become especially sweet on facades because of the stored warmth in the walls.
Kiwi is a very resilient plant, but needs rigorous pruning!
Mini-Kiwi with their small fruits (like gooseberries) are also fun for cultivating on walls.
In milder locations of Germany and Europe even figs can thrive on a wall!
Not everything that is edible is a delicacy: here, fruits of Akebia (choclate vine)