the Art of Espalier

Friday, March 16, 2012


With one bathroom down, and the kitchen awaiting our Contractor's final touches, we've decided we're done with the inside this year. Still plenty left to do, my gosh the hideous carpet and horrific upstairs but I don't hate them enough to blow through our 2012 travel fund. So, enough on the inside, I'm mentally moving my brain to the outside. And our scraggly yard. Lucky for us, my Pops is in the business. He's got insane style for such a man's-man, I've always joked that he would make a rad florist.

He came out to the house last weekend and did some consulting. Basically told us to rip it all out, which is what we figured. Not wanting to trash all of the plants, we found a non-profit in New Orleans, Growing Home, that will come to your house, dig up your unwanted trees, and re-plant them at homes being rebuilt through the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. Always makes me feel a bit better about tearing perfectly fine things out, whether it's inside or out. Recycle when you can! While Pops is working on an overall plan for us that we can install in phases as we have the cash, he did give us something to think about doing now.

the Belgian Espalier,


Espalier is quintessential French gardening. We've seen it all over the French countryside, gracing the sides of homes along the German/French border, and tons of it in the grinzing area of Vienna. At the time I just didn't know it had a fancy name. Espalier is the art of taking a fruit tree or some other hearty plant and tediously pruning it into shapes. Circles, diamonds, the traditional pitch-fork that is at the top of the page. If you like the look of vines crawling up a wall, but the unruliness makes you twitch, you'd be interested in this. Pops knows our love for France, so when he suggested an espaliered look it made sense, and completely changed my perception of landscaping at our home. I'd always thought it would be boring, lacking personality. Plant a bush here, throw 3 together there. Repeat. But I'm quickly learning that the thought process that goes into the little touches in your home, can be used in your yard too. I don't know why I never thought about it, I just hadn't. And it's not just plants, it's in the stone selection that creates a walkway, it's finding the perfect spot for that hammock you've been coveting, it's lighting. It's a new place to unravel your personal style upon.

So what do you think of espalier? I'm excited about it. Have the perfect spot for it in my mind, the huge bland brick wall that is the side of our garage. Eye-sore for those coming around the bend in the street, but I'm envisioning that wall clad with some sort of fruit espalier. Lemons. So, something you'd do, or do you have one going on right now?

-lila

Images, via deborahsilver.com; traditional home

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