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How close to plant espalier fruit trees from the ground on? It's important to know that pruning and tying trees down is not as much fun as people think.
In the UK, we tend to think that a tree grows straight up from the ground. The branches just get thicker the higher the tree. This isn't always the case. Some fruit trees, for example, are tied to the ground using a trellis which can then be left to grow at their own pace. The branches can also be cut back to a certain length when the fruit is ready.
This is known as growing on wires. It allows fruit trees to grow, but in a more organised way.
If you're in the south of England, you'll see it all the time. I even used it when growing up in Kent. You'll see it used when you visit the National Trust grounds, too. In the UK, some fruit trees are pruned, too. It has become a bit of a fashion to see trees tied down, but this is not necessary if you're looking after them.
There are various types of espalier trees. Different apples and pears are pruned in different ways. I'm not going to go into how to make a living history of a variety, but there's plenty of information on the internet.
I'm going to explain how to tie apple trees down to the ground on a slope. You could use this technique if you have a small walled garden, for example, and don't want the apples to grow too high.
This won't work on a slope that is too steep as it could cause the branch to be damaged. If you do try this, use a thick rope and tie a loop in the top of the branch. The loop shouldn't be too small, as you don't want the branch rubbing on the rope when it's growing. Once the branch has grown to about 8cm, tie it down to the rope at the base of the trunk. There's no need to tie it at the apex, but you could if you want to. Keep an eye on the tree and, if it gets too heavy, trim back the branch.
_In order to make an espalier, you'll need a ladder and a garden rake. You could also use a spade to dig a small trench around the tree_.
_Cut into the tree and remove the bark so that it's hollowed out_.
_Pour a little gravel in the trench. Then, get the ladder and a tool to use as a rammer. Push it into the base of the tree to make an indentation. Remove the tool and dig down to form a hole about 30cm long by 18cm wide. This needs to be around 6cm deep at its deepest part. Use a hand trowel to fill the hole with gravel, about 18–22cm deep_.
_The hole must be large enough for the tree to grow into. After filling the hole, use a tool to smooth the gravel, leaving the tree exposed to air. Use a rake to help the tree to grow into the hole, and once the tree is securely growing, remove the rake_.
_When the branch is 8cm long, begin tying it to the tree with a thick rope. You can use any thickness that the tree will accept. Make the knot at the base of the branch, so that it is secure. Tie off the branch tightly and leave it to grow_.
### BROUGHT FORWARD
Huge trees are wonderful. You should see a fruit tree in a botanic garden, in a public park, and in somebody's back garden. The sight of fruit trees is a bit like the sight of rainforest trees. They are massive, imposing and majestic. They really do look special and special trees have history. In my imagination, fruit trees bring a rich history to mind. I recall that they were always associated with people who had been rich. My own childhood memories are of seeing a huge, orange _Acer macrophyllum_ in the garden of a house owned by my grandmother and auntie.
We also remember the history of pears, apples and plums, as they have been associated with special family ties. My grandmother, aunt and uncle grew large, healthy and bountiful fruit trees. Now my great-niece has been given a tree that has a story to tell. This is a tree that will live on in the memory, and I am excited to tell my daughter about it.
If you want to grow a tree, you are not limited to the examples I have provided, but you will be restricted by the space available. The size of the tree is only one factor that you will need to consider. This is an important point. The size of a tree does matter. It can make a great impact on your garden and, by extension, your life.
### **Growing a tree in a garden**
So, how do you go about growing a tree? The first thing you need to do is to decide where it will live. This may seem like a silly question, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to think about where you will put your tree. Even though I am not a tree surgeon, I can tell you that a tree is very sensitive and is easily damaged. Before it is grown, take a bit of time to think about its location and environment. Trees are very slow growing and this makes it important that you are patient and considerate. Trees also grow slowly because they need to be in a specific environment.
Trees can be planted in almost any soil, but their environment should be rich in organic matter. Trees need a lot of water. You need to consider the moisture content of the soil, as this will determine whether the tree will get enough water and whether the roots have sufficient capacity to absorb it.
Another factor to take into account is temperature. Plants grow more rapidly when the temperature is within a certain range. If you are planting a tree in hot or cold weather, you need to pay attention to this and make sure that it is well protected. You may need to consider shading a tree if you live in a hot and sunny climate.
### **Planting a tree**
In the early stages of planting a tree, a hole needs to be prepared for it. This hole should be big enough for the root ball and the tree. The hole must be deep enough so that it is at least twice as wide as the root ball.
Now comes the big question – can a small person plant a tree? It can be done, but I can guarantee you that you will not enjoy it. In my experience, the first tree I planted for my daughter – a pear tree – was planted on a small balcony with lots of neighbours peering over my shoulder as I bent over the planting. I did have one advantage though – the ground wasn't frozen, it was warm and humid. I could hardly wait to get it in the ground!
**Tree planting tips**
* You can always cut back part of a tree to make it a shorter size, but be very careful not to go below the soil level.
* It is very important to plant the tree _exactly where you want it_ , otherwise it will not grow and may damage the garden in other ways.
Some people put in the tree first, then dig the hole. It does make sense. You want the tree to settle in and make contact with the soil. This helps the roots. You then dig the hole into the soil so that the roots have a start and no end.
If the hole is deep enough, then plant the tree