I did it. I took out the two ailing fruit trees of my five-year-old, diamond-shaped espalier. Had to be brave. Had to be strong. Had to be done. The dwarf plum was so overtaken by aphids that it did not leaf out–even after periodic hosing and harsher chemicals than I would normally use. The dwarf apple had galls all along it’s trunk & main branches and barely leafed out. And the few leaves that did were covered with dusty mildew.
So now, I am left with two dwarf pear trees that are healthy and happy, but only half of an espalier. Knowing the pear trees performed best, I replaced the apple & plum with pear. The pear trees were the slower growers, but gave much more satisfaction in quantity of leaves, size of leaves, color of leaves (they’re bright green) and it is not prone to aphids, galls or mildew.
I bought two root-stock pear trees from Miller Nurseries in Canandaigua, NY– a dwarf Colette and a dwarf Red Anjou. Each tree was $22.85. They are now in and are just starting to leaf out. There’s no branching yet. For an espalier, it’s always sort of chancy where & when the branching will happen. There’s a good amount of training and trickery to get branches where I want them to be.
Did you know pear trees require two different varieties to pollinate properly? There’s even varieties of pear that require two different pear trees for pollination–other than its own variety. This may explain why I’ve not ever gotten any fruit from my existing pear trees.
I’ve learned from my last planting. When I installed the espalier originally, I put them in vertically, like trees grow, and had the branches form the diamond pattern. This was tough because the top of the two existing trees are up under the eave of the garage and have to be trimmed constantly.
This time, I planted them so the trunks are on the diagonal. They’ll have more opportunity to get to their destined height, there will be no vertical distractions and the branches will easily grow on the diagonal, with less training.
The espalier is under planted with ferns. On one end it hosts a young ginkgo tree, under planted with Solomon’s seal. On the other end, a clematis climbs an upright on the deck.
This summer the house is being painted and I’ve already told the painter I will paint this wall of the garage. The trees are trained along a system of cables & eye hooks and can’t easily be manipulated. I don’t trust anyone else to paint this area.
It was tough to take out half of the espalier. But I’m tougher. I hardly cried.