How to Train an Espalier

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Over the pas few years, we have planted our share of espaliers trees. For our projects, I prefer to use established trees, with about 18-24 inch root balls. This gives us a tree that is already established in its form, still allows us to plant close to a wall and provides the client with instant gratification of an established tree at a good value.  This does not take out the continued work of training and maintaining the tree’s form, which is way we are very particular with the tools and method we used for installing the trees.

How to Train an Espalier, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I wrote an article awhile back for Garden Design Magazine online about the forms, tree varieties and how to maintain an espalier (see article HERE), but never shared how we plant the trees. In this example, we planted a pair of classic Palmette Verrier or candelabra along a brick garage wall. We plan on these trees to mature at 10 feet (to match the height of the windows) over the next 3 years. After that will will maintain at that height.  For this application, we provided vertical guidelines along the brick wall that the tree will be trained. If you were doing a horizontal T espalier,  you would use the same process just running the guide lines along the horizontal branches.

How to Train an Espalier, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Here are the specific tools and detailed shots of how we run the lines for the trees. I have a lot more detailed images if you are interested

 

 How to Train an Espalier, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

*NOTE: Depending on the wall we are supporting the espalier against, we also use masonry anchors for the eye bolts. I have not included photos of the anchors, but generally we use these redheads.  Below is the specific sizing of eye bolts, cabling, etc. with links to the actual products.

How to Train an Espalier, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Sources for tools:

 

I hope this provided you with all the specific details that normally help me when tackling a project, but if you have any other specific questions just let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Twig Farms- Twig Wreath

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Red Twig Farms- Twig Wreath, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

Last season we had leftover dogwood branches from Red Twig Farms that we experimented weaving into different forms. Our most successful design was a simple wreath of the branches.  We sent a few off to Terrain as prototypes, and this Christmas they placed an order for both Yellow and Red Dogwood wreaths. The wreaths are beautiful alternative to classic evergreen wreaths and the traditional brown grapevine wreaths. We saved a few of the Red Dogwood wreaths at the shop and have been practicing different ways these could be used during the holiday season outside of bow adornments.

 

Red Twig Farms- Twig Wreath, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

(Upper Left) Plain Red Twig Dogwood Wreath. (Upper Right) Layered with a boxwood wreath

(Bottom Left) Mixed Bittersweet with Winterberry (Bottom Right) Wrapped with Stargazer lights

 

The wreaths are not listed on the website, but I am sure you can directly contact either Terrain location if you are interested in purchasing a wreath. I wish we had some of the yellow wreaths to show, but we shipped them all off before we took any photos.

 

 

 

The Benefits of an Edge

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Sometimes borders are a good thing and that includes in the garden. Edges help provide a transition between elements and can help contain gravel, mulch and turf from spreading. Besides its use for providing a barrier, edging provides an additional design element and should be considered detail.

The Benefits of an Edge, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Metal edging w/ Green Velvet Boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet') and Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis 'Thiller')

Metal edging along a gravel pathway.

 

 

The Benefits of an Edge, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Brick Edging

 Bricks on edge between turf lawn and a perennial garden. 

 

Where and How to Edge: Edging is used in areas of loose stone to prevent from spreading into turf or beds, such as walkways, driveways and patio spaces. It can also be used to provide an edge along turf to prevent the spreading of grass into plant beds. Common materials used include brick, cut stone, slab stone and metal. Below is a visual ID of four major edging types in use.

 

The Benefits of an Edge, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Edging by Type

 

The Benefits of an Edge, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Metal edging separating pea gravel and turf

 Metal edging used to separate gravel bed and turf.  

 

Edging Problems: In areas where there is freezing and thawing, some edging material will heave out of the ground and will need to be periodically re-set. Edging is not a 100% foolproof barrier, gravel and grass will cross the line and will require maintenance. Also if the wrong gravel type is used or layered too thick, the barrier will not provide the intended function.

The Benefits of an Edge, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Metal edging on a green roof in Columbus, Ohio, USA

Metal edging along gravel path on a green roof. 

 

The Benefits of an Edge, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Metal edging creating a meandering path

Metal edging along a gravel path into a perennial garden. 

 

When Not to Using Edging: I don’t typically use edging around flower/perennial beds. I prefer to use a technique that includes a deep trench surrounding the bed. I use a sharp flat spade cut to make minor adjustments in the shape and insuring separation of the turf and bed.

Also please stay away from those plastic edging. If you use the method above you will have better result of keep beds shaped and materials contained. I cannot think of too many cases where plastic is ever the best solution in the garden.

 

(All photos from work by McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery)