Espalier: Beautiful, Productive Garden Walls and Fences.
A review by Angela Reimann, Salisbury Library Service
In today’s small gardens – our havens of private space – it makes sense to aim for planting which is cunningly arranged. A garden where you have space for a few fruit trees as nothing tastes better than home picked fruit. Imagine lots of shade in summer and hot west facing walls draped with cooling greenery.
The ancient walled gardens of Iran were known for just such spaces. Maybe earlier people created a kind of Espalier, but it is the Persians who are first credited with this art. Espalier is the art of training trees into two-dimensional shapes or flat plane designs. In Europe espalier became fashionable during the Middle Ages and beyond. And today, we can adapt this shaping of plants to our own good use.
What I like about Allen Gilbert’s book is that he knows what will work for Australian conditions. Gilbert is a respected horticulturalist and once ran an orchard in Tasmania. This is where he experimented with espalier – on apple, pear and almond trees. He also traveled to European old gardens and there are many good photos in the book.
Allen Gilbert’s book also gives a whole chapter on selecting the right plants for espalier. Australia’s longer, sunnier summers means that we have a greater variety to select from than in the northern hemisphere. Good plants should be able to be bent slowly into shape. Brittle branches are unsuitable. Australian plants are often hardy and tolerate heavy pruning. Bottlebrush, Grevillea, Correa and Erimophila species work well and have low water needs.
|Artist / Author||Allen Gilbert|
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