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A gardener’s guide to espaliering

GH art director Sarel Greyling signed up for the espalier workshop at Babylonstoren. This is what he learnt

What is espalier?

Espalier is the horticultural and agricultural practice of controlling woody plant growth for the production of fruit. Branches are pruned and tied to a frame, frequently in formal patterns, flat against a structure such as a wall, fence or trellis. It was developed in Europe to extend the growing season by selecting good positions for sunlight.


1. To create a visually beautiful effect.

2. To maximise space in small gardens; to focus on production and not growth.

3. To make it easier to pick fruit.

Espalier systems

After one year of planting, the system you decided on can be implemented:

How to espalier

1. Select a good position for your fruit tree and decide what shape you want.

2. Plan, measure and build the structure.

3. Plant a young tree, ideally in midwinter when dormant (July and August).

4. Prune in winter to stimulate growth.

5. Prune in summer to keep the tree in shape.

6. Remove the fruit in the first few years until the structure is established.

Babylonstoren runs various gardening courses throughout the year. They include:

The secret life of bees: 18 October 2017

Herbs for health: 25 October 2017

Growing summer salads: 8 November 2017

Building garden structures: 22 and 29 November 2017

Indigenous succulents: 6 December 2017

Click here for more information.

PHOTOS: iStock/martb and Sarel Greyling


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