The Magazine — Fruit Trees


From My Own Garden Today: The Espalier Apple

My love of gardening was greatly inspired by the gardens my grandparents had at their home in Ithaca. Both were enthusiastic gardeners. While my grandmother tended the flower borders, my grandfather's domain was the espaliered apple he meticulously maintained. It was his pride and joy. Espaliering is the long practiced art of training trees, shrubs, and woody vines against a flat surface, such as a wall. You can also train them to a freestanding fence or trellis. He was given the space on the backside of the garage - out of public view -my grandmother told me many years later with a wink.

What was originally the eyesore of the house became over the years its centerpiece. It was a great event when it came time to pick the enormous fruit which had been coddled throughout the summer. Picking time was carefully chosen to be able to maximize the enjoyment of seeing so many fruit on the tree for the longest amount of time, while still getting the perfectly ripe fruit. Baked apples became the only choice at breakfast for several weeks every fall.

The tree also became the backdrop of every family photo taken when weather permitted. As a child i recall the dread of being marched out for another photo in front of the apple. Recently i came across a group of photos which showed the growth and training of the tree over many years in the late 60s through the 70s when it filled in the space completely.

Espaliers are a fun way to explore having fruit when you have limited space or when you may need a focal point to a garden. Most any tree will work.

They don't always have to be fruit as well. Vita Sackville West spoke of the joy of training magnolias on the walls at Sissinghurst with the flowers appearing like doves on the branches.

Espaliers are a great way to let your imagination run free and see what you can create. We also have many further images and design ideas on our Pinterest Fruit Tree Board which you can find HERE.

Fruit Tree Pollination Simplified

Growing your own fruit trees can be immensely rewarding! However, trying to figure out what pollinates what, or if you even NEED a pollinator, can be challenging and confusing. Here's a simple breakdown to get you on the path to a successful harvest.


Apples need a different variety to pollinate with. For example, if you want a Honeycrisp apple tree (buy one here ), you must plant a different variety, such as a McIntosh apple (buy one here). Keep in mind, you must plant apple trees no more than 50 feet apart for good pollination set. You can also use a crabapple tree. If you have a neighbor with an apple or crabapple tree, check with them to see what variety it is. Bloom time is vital in choosing the right variety to pollinate with.  If they aren't blooming at the same time, they can't pollinate one another. If in doubt, buy varieties that ripen at approximately the same time, or within the same time frame. For example, buy an early and a mid ripening apple. Just avoid choosing an early and a late. One more tiny thing to consider are triploid varieties. These are varieties that will not pollinate itself, or another variety, so you must actually have three varieties in your yard!

Only have space for one apple tree? Try a 3-in-1 grafted apple tree.


There are two types of cherries, sweet and sour (also known as pie cherries). Sweet cherries need a different variety to pollinate with. There are a few exceptions, such as Lapins and Stella that are self-fertile sweet cherries, meaning you can plant one of them and get cherries in your yard. However, if you want a Bing, Black Tatarian or other type of sweet cherries, you must plant a different variety or a sour cherry, such as a Montmorency or North Star.

All sour cherries are self-fertile. You can plant one sour cherry, and get cherries.


Good news....all peaches and nectarines are self-fertile. No pollination needed! Peach and nectarine trees are great choices for small spaces, as they are generally much smaller trees at maturity. Some of our favorites include: Madison for it's winter hardiness, Elberta for it's freestone and delicious taste and Redgold Nectarine for it's juicy, sweet flesh.


Apricots are a mixed bucket of pollination requirements. Some are self-fertile, some need a pollinator and others are semi-self fertile. It is best to check on each variety and it's specific requirement. We offer three varieties: Perfection (needs a pollinator), Goldcot (Self-Fertile) and Tomcot (Semi-Self Fertile). Even on varieties of Apricots that are self-fertile, we recommend planting a second variety to ensure a heavy set.


There are two types of pears: European (like Bartlett) and Asian (like Shinsieki). Each type needs to pollinate with a pear from the same type. For example, you must plant two different varieties of European pears such as Bosc and Red Barlett. And two Asian pears such as Twentieth Century and Shinseiki.

Don't have space for two? Try one of our 4-in-1 Combo Pear trees.


There are two types of plum trees, European Plums (like Santa Rosa and Elephant Heart) and Italian Plums or Prunes (like Stanley). European plums need another European Plum to pollinate with. Italian Plums/Prunes are self-fertile.

We hope this helps you while choosing what types of fruit trees to grow in your yard. Please let us know if we can help you choose whats best for your garden!