I come from an espaliering culture.
The civilized landscape of my native Catalonia was striated with vineyards, the vines trained uni-dimensionally along wires. Fruit trees were espaliered on wires as well, but my favorites were the ones "crucified," as my mother's sister used to say, against an old garden wall, apricots and peaches glowing yellow to red in the reflected heat of the Mediterranean sun.
Last year I decided to grow my favorite fruit, apricots. The Vermont climate being risky for anything softer than apples, I thought that the south-facing wall of the house would offer maximum protection. And it would give me a reason to try my hand at espaliering.
The guy I bought the tree from gave me what advice he could on which limbs to cut and which to train horizontally, but I could tell that this was just book learning. Vermont is not an espaliering culture. "Let me know if it survives," he said, loading the little tree on the back of the Subaru. "I'll bring you an apricot next summer," I promised him.
I'm sorry to say, he won't get his apricot. That's because my spouse and I just ate the entire 2013 apricot harvest, still hot from the sun:
They were delicious, the flesh sweet and firm and perfumed. One of the fruits had a tiny worm at the blossom end, and was all the sweeter for it.
Not much of a harvest, you say? I think it was a remarkable feat for the little tree to bear those three apricots given the climate, its youth, my inexperience, and the fact that in the middle of winter a hungry rabbit stripped most of the bark off its trunk.
This fall I'll do a better job of rabbit pre-emption, and with any luck at all next year we'll have apricots enough to share.