Espalier (Es-pah-lee-yay) is a horticultural term derived from the French word for trellis, and is used to describe a plant that has been trained to grow flat against a trellis or wall. This is particularly desirable when space is limited, because, as we know, Camellias can be ‘space gluttons’, and in smaller gardens the solution for lovers of Camellias is to grow them using this technique.
When selecting a plant for use as an espalier, look for one with open, sprawling growth and several leading branches. Plant the camellia against the wall or trellis, then tie the branches back in the desired position using soft plastic ties or twine – don’t use wire as it can cut into the branches. Prune off any unnecessary growth, training the leaders to grow horizontally or at an upward angle, with the best displays generally being symmetrical. Try to keep any major pruning until after flowering and your espalier will reward you year after year with a display of flowers that will always be in clear view.
Most sasanqua varieties are suitable, although any camellia can be trained as an espalier.
The word espalier initially referred to the actual trellis on which the plant was trained to grow, but over time has come to be used to describe the technique. An espalier collects almost as much sunlight as a regular tree, yet has far less mass. This makes them ideal not only for decorative purposes, but also for gardens in which space is limited. They may also be planted next to a wall, which can reflect more sunlight and retain heat overnight, or be planted so that they are facing north and absorb maximum sunlight. These two factors allow an espalier to succeed in cooler climates, where a non-espaliered tree of the same variety would fail.
Varieties that can be successfully espaliered:
Mine No Yuki
Espalier. Born and bred in Motueka around 1952 'Braeburn' has become a firm favourite in the Kiwi orchard. Crisp, firm and juicy with yellowish green skin that is broadly striped with red. Sweet flavour balanced with a moderate tartness for just a little zing. Deciduous.
A heritage apple that was selected in NZ. The fruit is streaked bright red and has some russeting. The flesh is sweet and juicy with a very good flavour. Reliable and regular crops that are ripe around March. Deciduous.
One of the finest apples ever grown. Greenish-yellow skin with orange-red striping. Rich, aromatic nutty flavour makes this older variety still hugely popular. Suitable for cooking or eating. Ripens towards March. Deciduous.
Espalier. A Japanese variety with large fruit with a smooth red-shaded skin. The creamy white flesh is firm, juicy and sweet with a satisfying crunch when eaten fresh. Stores exceptionally well. Ripe from mid autumn onwards. Tip Bearer. Deciduous.
Apple Information Page
'Fuji' is a Tip Bearer meaning that the flowers and fruit are produced on the end of branches i.e. branch tips - be mindful of this when pruning. The fruit will store well for months if refrigerated.
Espalier. Everyone knows this classic bright green apple with its tangy flavour and crisp white flesh. Bake it, sauce it, slice it, caramelise it, but most of all, simply bite into it. Keeps well. A productive regular tip bearer maturing later in April. Suited to most climates. Deciduous.
Espalier. This is probably New Zealand's most popular eating apple. Rosy red blushed skin. Creamy fine textured flesh, crisp, sweet and juicy. Regarded as one of the worlds finest apples and awarded a RHS Award of Garden Merit. Matures in mid summer. Deciduous.
Japonica Espalier. An oldie but a goody. Beautiful, formal, double blooms of deepest red make this a highly desirable Camellia. Flowers late winter to spring, quite a compact shrubby habit. Happiest in semi-shade and acid soil. Evergreen.
Sasanqua. A very good performing Camellia that flowers from early autumn through to early winter. The blooms are double, white, with just a hint of blush pink on the outer edges. Upright vigorous habit. Happiest in semi-shade. Presented here espaliered. Evergreen.
Hybrid Espalier. This beautiful Camellia has tight bright pink buds that open to miniature, single, apple-blossom pink blooms which are lightly fragrant. A pretty Camellia which would suit a small courtyard or patio area. Flowers for a long period. Happiest in semi-shade with acid soil. Evergreen.
Hybrid. Simple but sweet single rose-pink blooms with prominent yellow stamens are borne in profusion along attractively arching branches. The blooms are very fragrant blooms and appear autumn to winter. Small rounded bright green leaves. Happiest in semi-shade with acid soil. Evergreen.
Presented here as an Espalier for walls and fences.