Both apple and pear trees
lend themselves perfectly to be trained into either an
espalier or a fan.
The reason for this is that the
fruit is produced on spurs as opposed to the tips of the
branches. Plums, cherries, figs, nectarines and peaches are
not suitable for espalier training but make good candidates
for fan training.
are many benefits gained from either type of training, the
most important being that both styles are compact and hence
fit nicely into small spaces and gardens. Additionally both
styles are easily protected from frost by covering with
fleece. However one of the most valued contributions they
make to the garden is the ornamental and aesthetic qualities
that they bring to any space.
To espalier a tree is to the
art of training a tree to grow flat against a wall or other
upright support, hence making it a perfect choice for any
confined space. Traditionally in many Victorian vegetable
and fruit gardens the espalier was as used means of edging
the plot or borders.
The first task is to erect a
training system for the tree against a wall, fence or on
the edge of a border, wherever the chosen spot may be.
This involves erecting horizontal wires between two
posts and deciding how many tiers the intended espalier
will have. Make the tiers between 12 to 18 (30cm to
Ideally use a M26 which is a
dwarfing rootstock or MM106 is perfect for the job. A
one year old maiden whip (this is a tree with no
branches) is ideal for the training. This process is
best carried out in late autumn or very early spring.
Dig a generous hole for the
new tree adding plenty of manure or compost which will
enrich the soil and ensure the tree has a good start.
Tease out any roots from the root ball and place in the
hole. Firm the soil in well around the tree.
Cut back the main stem to 1
ft. (30cm) from the ground. Allow the top three buds to
grow up in spring. Train the top one up vertically, this
one will grow up to make the second tier. The two side
shoots should be tied in at a 45 degree angle. In
November lower them carefully tying them into the wires
at 90 degrees. If only one tier was required then cut
out the vertical shoot.
In the second year the
vertical stem is then cut back to between 12 to 18 (30
to 48cm) and the two new side shoots will then form the
next horizontal layer and the top bud to form the new
In late summer cut back side
shoots growing from horizontal arms back to 3 to 4 (7
to 10 cm). Cut back any shoots from the main vertical
stem. The fruit will form on these short stumpy spurs.
Continue with the same
process of creating tiers until the required height has
TRAINING A FAN
Following steps 1 through to
3 as above, position the tree between 8 to 12 (20 to
30 cm) from the wall, angling the tree towards the wall
with the graft union (where the fruit variety joins the
rootstock) being on the wall side of the hole.
Once the tree is planted cut
down the stem drastically to 12 to 18 (30 to 45 cm)
from the ground just above a couple of buds. These buds
will go to form the arms of the fan.
Let the buds grow in in the
spring and by summer it will be clear which two branches
will form the Y. Erect two canes at 45 degrees to
support the arms and tie them in. Remove any shoots that
grow from the trunk.
In the second spring reduce
the arms by two thirds. You should now have a tree with
two arms in the shape of a Y.
In summer, choose four
shoots from each arm to extend the existing arm, one at
the tip two down the branch and one lower down. Remove
any shoots growing towards the wall. In spring cut back
the four shoots by one third to form a strong framework.
Tie in shoots from these side shoots.