Sunday, March 11, 2012

Espaliered pear tree

pear tree, about 10 years old 

I bought this espaliered pear tree when it was just a baby, standing at only two and a half feet tall and with only a couple of silly looking branches sticking east and west from its tiny vertical stem. But I knew its ultimate potential. BTW, espalier just means to train in French, and it's a good way to use vertical space in small areas. We planted the pear tree facing South against a new wooden fence. Below is how the tree looked around 10 year ago as a tiny little thing. The tree, the cast iron urns, and the fence were all very young! Read about my autumn pear harvest here.

pear tree the first year it was planted, in around 2003

pear tree about 4 years later—still needing some side branches

Over time—12 years to be precise—the tree has grown into a lovely specimen that produces vast quantities of juicy pears each fall. It takes a bit of TLC and constant pruning of the "water sprouts," but I think it's worth it because the tree is interesting in each and every season. The tree starts out with a riot of fluffy white buds that the bees pollinate, and by early summer the pollinated blossoms swell and pears begin to grow. Pear trees are not self pollinators so you'll need two trees for the bees to do their magic. The sweet pears grow larger over the summer and eventually turn from lime green to a glorious bronze color. In fall after the pears have all been picked and eaten the leaves turn shades of yellow and copper and eventually drop to the ground. It's most beautiful in winter when you can see the bones of the tree without the leaves, especially after a light snowfall. To make your own espaliered trees you'll need the tree, a sturdy wall to tie the branches to, a good pear of pruners, and lots of patience!

pear tree in early spring

pear tree in mid spring

 pear tree in summer

pear tree in early fall

pear tree in late fall

pear tree in ver late fall, leaves have all fallen

pear tree in winter 

Best of all, the pears are delicious!

All photos, Diane Carnevale

One more...
After a heavy winter snow storm!



  1. Wow, that is gorgeous Diane! Lovely pictures too. I don't see any guide wires. How do you affix it to your fence? - Tammy

  2. Hi Tammy,
    I've screwed loads of little eye screws into the fence along the limbs of the tree, then I fasten the branches with green colored twist ties. I am glad you can't see them. I will take a close up photo of this and email to you if you wish, just write to me. My email is I can also give you tips on the pruning process.


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