Espalier Training of Ornamental Pear Trees

(Question)

I seem to have acquired a Bradford Flowering Pear. It is young, potted and pliable with several decent branches; the height is as yet only 6ft. I like many of the attributes of this tree, however I worry about it’s mature size, the much reported mess and possible tree and property damage, etc. I live in Southwestern ON, Canada, Zone 6A. I have 2 possible sites for what I hope to do with this tree. Area 1. (my favorite option) is a sheltered site, near a fence which gets perhaps 6hrs of morning sun. The soil’s substrate is nutrient rich clay, but I’ve raised the area up with much topsoil and compost. The area does drain, however not exceptionally fast, deeper down (say 3ft down, where the clay gets denser). Area 2. Gets 7-8hrs of sun, is also against a fence, has the same soil/clay/compost fill, yet the space is at a higher elevation than Area 1, so it would drain faster………All that background said, I wish to know whether anyone has had any success using the Oblique Cordon Method of Espaliering these trees, or perhaps even just the regular Horizontal or Candelabra Espalier Methods, keeping them at a height no more than say 10ft??? I’ve attached a few sample pictures. Thank-you for your time! Kathy

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question.

‘Bradford’ is a cultivar of the ornamental Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana), and espalier is an excellent way to manage this infamously weak-wooded tree. Of the two possible sites, area 2 seems to be a better choice since Callery Pear is intolerant of shade and demands full sun to grow well, but is not particular to soil type or drainage.

I personally do not know anyone growing Callery Pear as an espalier, but a search on google reveals many beautiful examples in all possible configurations, and Callery Pear is certainly hardy to our zone. It is a moderately fast growing tree to 50 feet high and 35 feet wide; espalier may well be the ticket to keeping it under 10 feet even as it matures.

We wish you the best of luck.

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