The thing about gardening, as with most things, is it’s one thing to look at something great and which looks fabulous, but quite another to achieve it for yourself. Espalier fruit trees look lovely, will give our garden structure without overshadowing every inch of it, and will provide lots of fruit. But now it’s got beyond the stage of looking at glossy pictures in books, I’m daunted by the difficulty of raising them.
You can’t just whack in any apple tree and train it into an espalier. It needs the right rootstock (dwarfing) and to be of a suitable variety (spur fruiting not tip fruiting). Even if Homebase are stocking a suitable tree, I doubt they will include all the information I’ll need to know that.
This Orange Pippin supplier is pretty encouraging about using their one year old bare root trees to establish an espalier or fan. I’d be inclined to get a tree there, as they have so many varieties and it would be lovely to grow a heritage variety – something we can’t get in the supermarket.
But a James Grieve from them costs £30, while the same variety already trained with two tiers costs £50 from Blackmoor. So for the time being, I guess it’s the more expensive lazy version. But perhaps once we have our arbour built (ie when I build it -it’s currently in the early stages, by which I mean looking at glossy pictures in books stage) I can have my first try at DIY.
Oh, and finally, for my own reference, Keepers Nursery give a very good account of how espaliers and fans work and how to do one yourself. My day job in digital marketing tells me that by giving away useful content free they are establishing trust with me, building their brand and preparing the way for a sale. My life’s work as a tight fisted scavenger, on the other hand, tells me to take their advice and keep my money… But perhaps I’ll return to Keepers at some time in the future.
And finally, on my tour of suppliers, I also liked the Real English Fruit Company.