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Espalier and fan for shorter wall

We are in the North East and have quite a long stretch (~15-20m) of dry stone wall. It's West facing, gets quite a bit of sun and is fairly sheltered. We were thinking about growing an espalier pear and maybe 3 fan plums, but the wall is only about 1.2m tall. I know you can get stepovers, so assume you can grow shorter but I wanted to ask if it would be likely to work and if there are any particular problems we might encounter trying to grow trees like that.


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,140
    I've only ever seen apples grown as stepovers so maybe it's not a suitable method for training pears and plums.    However, you could maybe do espaliered trees if you can find the varieties you want on the dwarfest rooting stock possible to control their vigour.

    Have a read of this info from the RHS which explains about rootstocks and pruning and training and then try specialist nurseries to see what they say about varieties and rootstocks - 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks.

    I'll have a chat with the specialist nurseries. I've got plenty of space left and right, it's just up that is a bit limited.

    I guess I might be able to use trellis or some other support to allow a bit more height, bit I'd be worried then the wind would catch it.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,140
    Tell the nurseries that too and make sure you know where the prevailing winds come from and when so you're not exposing fragile blossom to strong gusts.   Instead of trellis, consider posts and tensioned wires to give extra height - less wind resistance, longer lasting and very discreet.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • @Obelixx suggestion of wires is the best idea @jonathan.cole to grow against as trees will need alot of support to grow into the shape you want.
    Plums are a bit vigorous ( even dwarf stock) to try doing this way, which is why its mostly done with apples. 
    How about looking into other fruits like apricots, that need two trees to cross pollinate as you have the room.
    I have an apple which has worked well in this style, but it is proving difficult to keep my plum ( on a dwarf rootstock) in shape, it just takes a  bit more work to keep it small. I did train the limbs but there is still alot of growth to cut back each year. 🙂
  • Ferdinand2000Ferdinand2000 Posts: 537
    edited September 2020
    Make sure that you have a strategy in case your posts need replacing, or use ones that will last long enough. Depends on how many posts you need.

    My approach would be to put the posts 1/3 of the way between espaliers / fans, or between every second one, or perhaps 300mm off-centre between the two, depending on spacing and how many it needs. Then if you need to you can put another set in without disturbing the first lot and the plants, and attach them to the existing wire.

    “Rivers know this ... we will get there in the end.”
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