Although the details of the first garden may forever remain unknown, it’s safe to assume that gardening has been around for hundreds of years. For many, gardening is seen as an art form and an expression of self and home. Gardens can be made to be beautiful, filled with flowers and trees to provide shade on a sunny afternoon, but a garden can also be a source of food and in the past, maybe even survival. Traditionally, gardens were fenced off in some way to provide a barrier of protection against animals. The practice of fencing off a garden led to the art of espalier.
Espalier is the training and pruning of a plant (typically a tree) to grow flat against a barrier such as a wall or fence. This art form can be used in your home garden as an architectural accent. Use it to dress up stone walls or a fence. Try using fruit bearing trees such as apples or pears to add a pop of color to your perimeter.
Some garden centers sell plants that have already been trained, but if you’re looking to train a plant start by planning out your pattern. Common themes include traditional designs that have the plants growing horizontally, vertically or crisscrossed. Once you’ve planned your pattern determine a suitable location and what type of plant you’d like to use. Depending on your pattern, additional equipment may be required such as posts or wires. Consider talking to a local professional at your garden center for additional information and advice on your specific property. Remember, training can take months to years, so be patient and continue to prune as needed!