To Espalier, or not Espalier. That is the question

The time has come to put mt Pink Parfait that I grafted last year in the ground before it wakes up. Attached is a picture of it when it was a little bit smaller but the branching is exactly the same.
Because this young tree does not have a central leader and only 2 branches that forms a distinct V, one option is to cut one off and shorten the other and hope it grows straight next year and start building on what comes. I could shorten them both and hope the third runt branch grows, but it’s so close to the union and I don’t think I want the tree to start that low.

Due to that, what I’m leaning towards is to espalier this guy. But again, it does not have a central leader where I can select buds to go either side. But what about use bot of these braches and select bud on only one side of each. As in, the left branch will handle the left branches and the right branch will handle the right?

Any ideas and pointers are very much welcome.


You can stake the top one straight and cut the others. If you have deer I would avoid espalier.

I thankfully don’t have a deer issue where I live.

If it’s the left branch you’re referring to, it protrudes just as much as the right one. The angle of the photo just makes it look a bit straighter. They are also double in girth now, so it will be harder to straighten it. But yes, I thought about cutting all but the straightest one and try to create a central leader so I have something to work with next spring, and I still might do that.

The reason why I’m leaning towards espalier is that I have 50 feet of fence (one side of a chicken yard) that would provide some shade for the girls. I also just dug a 2 feet wide garden/flower bed along the entire fence where I’ll plan on planting a plethora of perennial flowers and figured a tree in the middle would look nice, especially since it has a little bit of a complicated shape. But I’ve never seen any espalier pictures that feature 2 leaders.

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The standard Belgian fence uses building blocks that are each a tree split into two leaders at 45 degree angles close to the ground. Your tree looks like it wants to do that! Of course to make the fence you would need a lot more trees.

I’ve seen some nice pictures of old espaliers in europe featuring just one rung (split like yours, then laterals trained down), usually on a very low fence or divider.


You can make an espalier from anything. The way you have it now can be used. Just make one branch do a line higher than the other. Espalier is just shaping it the way YOU want it. There is no official way. It is still small, so plenty of time to work with it.


If you want something to use as a centerpiece, you could consider a candelabra form espalier. Essentially, this would involve training the tree to a U form, so the branches you currently have would go down to horizontal, spread, and then up to vertical. If you wanted, you could then repeat the process, training the tree so that you have U’s perched on each arm of the U (if that makes sense).

If the branches are too stiff to train down to a U, you might also consider fan-training the tree. You’ll want to look up a guide on this, but essentially it would involve training the tree to a Y, and then a Y at the end of each Y, etc. This method is used to espalier tip-bearing fruit trees (such as peaches), but you could also use it for primarily ornamental purposes.

By the way, I have a 50 foot Belgian fence. It takes about 25 trees, one every two feet, which is not insanely expensive if you graft the trees yourself (which is what I did). I don’t know how much shade it would provide, but it could be a nice feature, and you can also plant things around it in the way that you’re talking about. (Though you don’t want to overwhelm the trees, of course.)


A Beligian fence looks really cool, so I think I’ll go with that type of training. I won’t add more trees however, but it would still look really cool with one tree looking like that.
Thanks for the tip. Super excited about having a Pink Parfait in the middle of the garden.

What rootstock is it grafted on?
Making a “belgian fence” tree on MM111 might be asking for trouble for example.

If the rootstock is sufficiantly dwarfing you could consider stepover.
Other forms are fan, horizontal espalier. Vertical espalier (guyote (grape) UFO (cherry) multi-leader (italy) future orchard (new zealand/asutralia i think) etc

The cool look from a belgian fence are the multiple tree’s intertwined forming a fence pattern. If your looking for a single “center piece” espalier.

I would go for kandelabre styles. (single dubble or tripple U shape. Or nested U shapes.

You could also bend the shoots into a V cut them at the same hight. And than bend the new shoots back to the middle and down a bit. To form a hart shape. You then let the outward buds sprout but cut away those inside the hart shape. Basicly a fan espalier with a hart shaped hole/window in the middle.

In the end you can do almost anything you want with the tree you have. You can make it open centre. You can make an espalier. You can make it single leader. Depending on what you want. you would have to train more or less. I think you should consider first what you want. And than look at what the tree’s doing. Not the other way around :wink:

And since you got the hang of grafting. If you ever want to make a tree where the side brances come from exactly the same hight. You can graft that. Or cut back a 1 year old grafted tree. to just above where the bud sprouted. The super tiny latent buds in the “growing rings” will sprout and are milimeters apart from each other in hight. Or if your inpatient. You can bud two buds at the same hight but opposite sides.
Like my profile picture

that i just now realise is out of focus -_-


A friend shared this espalier training fence, made with CNC-cut wood and wire.