The pliable pyracantha ... three ways to wall-train an espalier.
Ornamented with sprightly red berries, pyracantha is a choice plant for gifts and outdoor holiday decorating. It's also one of the most versatile evergreen shrubs in the mild-winter West. Many varieties are very easy to train. With a little pruning and tying, you can shape plants to almost any pattern.
Here's how three gardeners show off their espaliered pyracanthas.
To camouflage a chain-link fence (top left), Catherine DeHoff planted six 1-gallon plants 7 feet apart. She tied the strongest upright branch of each to the fence with tape and allowed them all to grow to the top of the fence. Side shoots at the right height and direction were kept; all others were removed. To keep the espalier neat, Mrs. DeHoff regularly removes all suckers and pinches back new growth in spring.
Mrs. DeHoff chose "Duvalii', a variety with large, dark red berries that color earliest, usually around October. For a close-up look, see page 208. Two nearly identical varieties are "Graberi' and "Victory'. Others suitable for espalier are "Chadwickii', "Cherri Berri', "Lalandei', "Mohave', "Navaho', and "Teton'.
To dress up his garage (center), John Neale planted one 5-gallon pyracantha and began shaping it to its present grid-work pattern. He selected three main branches to grow up the narrow side wall to the garage overhead. The outside branch follows the roof line halfway to the peak, then runs level; several vertical branches were trained from it. The other main branches bend at right angles closer to the door; most of the vertical branches grow from them. Branches are tied to nails in the stucco.
A fan of branches accents the brick wall at bottom left. Espalier training was started at a nursery (the frame is just visible behind the plant); the owner maintains the shape by doing frequent pinching and pruning.
Nurseries sell pyracantha in 1-gallon cans for about $6, in 5-gallon cans for $19. Espaliered plants cost more, usually between $40 and $50.
Shop now to find the berry color you like; plant now, or use for winter decoration until planting out in spring. For espaliers, choose upright varieties that naturally develop long branches.
Photo: Fence camouflage: 16-year-old espaliered pyracantha is cloaked with creamy white flowers in spring. Branches were tied to fence with green plastic tape, are self-supporting now
Photo: Leafy grid above garage is formed by five-year-old pyracantha. Owner John Neale started it from a single 5-gallon plant. He prunes anytime to remove suckers, excess growth
Photo: Fanning out against a wall, two-year-old pyracantha has six vertical branches held to wall with adhesive hooks and twine. Pinching new growth keeps plant shapely
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|Date:||Dec 1, 1984|
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