Espalier Haircut Event

This is another story about our espalier apple grove…all two of our trees.  Earlier this week, we wrote that we noticed that our Malus ‘Liberty’ was looking a little overgrown compared to its new cousin Malus ‘Gravenstein’.  In other words, we noticed that ‘Liberty’ needed a little haircut.  So a good pruning was in order.  Our research had said that the espaliers should be pruned when dormant.  However, since we are new to the pruning process, we decided to wait to see what was growing in a crazy manner and then cut it off.  We just didn’t want to take a risk of cutting something out and realizing later that we had made a bad mistake.  You can see the finished job in the picture above….haircut complete.

When we started our pruning job, we paid close attention to ‘Gravenstein’, which was pruned already, and compared it to ‘Liberty’, which was not.  Notice in these pictures below that ‘Gravenstein’ has leaves that are close to the branch and spurs on the branch and there are no long vertical growths coming out.  If you are asking what a spur is, the best way to describe it is a very short piece of branch where the apple tree flowers and sets fruit.  Pruning encourages the tree to grow more of these fruiting spurs by removing competing suckers and unproductive wood.  A sign of  a well-trimmed espalier is the close-growing leaves without any vertical growth.  ‘Gravenstein’ looked like this.  However, ‘Liberty’ was not in such good shape.  You can see it better in these pictures.

See the growth coming out of the ‘Gravenstein’ spur and main branch?  The leaves are close to the spur and branch and never more than about two inches long.

Here’s crazy cousin ‘Liberty’.  See the vertical growth coming out of the branch.  We pruned all of these vertical baby branches out and only kept close growing leaves near the spurs and branches to promote fruit growing.

Another close up of the foliage on ‘Gravenstein’.  See how tight and close the leaves are?

Another shot of ‘Liberty’.  It doesn’t take much of an expert to see the long growth that needs to be cut off.  Fortunately, none of the growth that needed to be cut off had any baby apples attached.

After pruning all the vertical growth off of ‘Liberty’, both espaliers looked pretty much the same with some beautiful leaves growing not more than two inches off of the main branch or growing spurs.  All it took was some patience, some pruning shears and a barber-like mentality.  No blow dry was necessary.  Are you in the process of pruning any trees in your yard? 

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