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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Design on Friday 13

Friday, April 14, 2017

~ G A R D E N ~ 

Remember one of the two key elements of French design in a garden is structure?  French-style garden structure is achieved by sculpted plants and by geometrical garden designs. Espalier is a specialized form of both sculpted plants and a geometrical garden design.   

  1. 1.
    a fruit tree or ornamental shrub whose branches are trained to grow flat against a wall, supported on a lattice or a framework of stakes.
  1. 1.
    train (a tree or shrub) to grow flat against a wall. 
Source: Google 

Examples of espalier abound in public gardens throughout France. One well-known garden is the kitchen garden at Château Chenonceau that is bordered by apple trees espaliered along a low wire. 

Heavy-laden espaliered pear trees are trained against a wooden wall of the terrace section of a restaurant in the Paris Botanical Garden - Jardin des Plantes. Rather befitting that a restaurant in one of the world's foremost botanical gardens has espaliered pear trees filled with fruit, don't you think? 

The size, quantity, and quality of the fruit illustrate espaliered fruit trees are viable options for small garden spaces, such as balconies and terraces. A perfect fruit tree for a Paris apartment... 

or... American gardens   
in French country homes 

Redenta's, a local garden center in Arlington, Texas, offers plants suitable for local growing conditions and provides examples of growing plants. An espaliered apple tree was just beginning to flower in this photo. 

Two years ago we noticed a volunteer Bradford pear tree in the backyard had a natural shape for creating an espalier. This is an ideal chance to practice forming an espalier at no cost. You can see four levels of horizontal branches. 

The horizontal branches have grown, and it is time to 1) add more support on both sides of the tree and 2) prune limbs that are growing beyond the espalier shape. 

 Wire grid galvanized metal panels are more places for creating espalier with Star Jasmine vines. 

The open space underneath the deck will be a good spot for storing gardening materials, but we need a design that hides the outdoor water line, wires, and gardening materials. 

 Star Jasmine grows quickly, smells divine when it blooms, and should hide whatever is under the deck. 

The tendrils are easy to wind around the wire grid, and the plant should be easy to prune into shape each year. One drawback is we are at the northernmost zone for Star Jasmine's hardiness. 

I grew this plant variety for several years in the past and lost it after heavy pruning coupled with severe winters with extremely low temperatures, ice, and snow for four consecutive years. 

For more sources on espaliers and how to grow them, see my Pinterest board, Espalier.


Come back each Friday for more snapshots of French architecture, houses, textiles, metal work, food, woodwork, landscapes... and discover inspiration for creating your very own 

French-inspired garden and home. 


  1. I like the way trees grown in this way look. You tree and your jasmine look great this way!

  2. I've always been fascinated by this method of growing a fruit tree. I don't really have a place to try it, but that's probably just as well. I'm known as a serial killer among most gardening enthusiasts.

  3. I love your espalier and now I'm wondering where we could put one.

  4. It looks like the star jasmine is loving the metal panels. That is going to look stunning when in full bloom. BTW, you're not the only one pushing the envelope on zones. :-) I'm chancing more tropicals, and I have a friend who has had a plumbago come back and bloom 2 years in a row. Since, we are not really having a "winter" anymore, I think it's worth a try.

    I have a Peggy Martin rose that is being trained on an espalier placed against our wooden fence. So far, so good!

    Wishing you a Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring!!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  5. Good evening Judith, now how strange is this. I was watching BBC Gardening World during the week and Monty Don, the presenter was talking about espaliered fruit trees and then I pop over to visit you, only to discover you discussing espaliered trees as well. This is something I am interested in, because I do have fruit trees in my garden, but as it is a small garden I am looking into growing espaliered trees.
    My goodness, the Jasmine you have planted will treat you to its wonderful perfume during the summer months. When I visited India, the women wove Jasmine into their hair. I remember attending an Indian theatre dance competition and the whole hall was awash with the perfume from the Jasmine carefully entwined in the women's long hair. The perfume was heavenly.
    Have an enjoyable day.
    Best Wishes.

  6. I have been intrigued by the whole idea of training fruit trees in this manner and love to look at them in the gardens we visit. We hope to employ this method as a test for us... after we move to the country... someday.


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