Wall-Trained Fruit

Fruits are another group of plants which enjoy the shelter of a wall if space is available; they include apples, pears, plums (including gages), peaches, apricots and nectarines, and all provide, in addition to good quality fruit, a display of flower in the spring. Apples are the least likely to need the shelter of a wall, but the others benefit from the extra warmth which will improve the flavour of the fruits.

Good examples of trained fruit trees can still occasionally be seen on kitchen garden walls in some of the large private gardens, all beautifully pruned and trained with not a shoot out of place, the results of many years of work from the skilled gardener. Nowadays, with smaller gardens, they are sometimes trained on a suitable house or boundary wall.

Normally all these different types of fruits, with perhaps the exception of peaches, nectarines and apricots, are also successful in the open ground, but growing them on a wall does afford some protection from late spring frosts when the trees are in flower; this particularly applies to plums and gages. It is considered that some of the finest flavoured dessert plums and gages are produced from trees grown against a warm south or west-facing wall.

It is very important to purchase young trees from a reputable fruit grower or a good garden centre, and to make sure that they are healthy and growing on the appropriate rootstock. Work at research stations has produced dwarfing rootstocks which are particularly suitable for using in a small space and these are generally the best choice for growing against a wall. The various methods of training, such as cordon, espalier, or fan give trees which make maximum use of the space available. They may be purchased as ‘maidens’ (i.e. one year old plants) by the experienced grower and then pruned and trained in accordance with the form of tree he wishes to grow. These are cheaper to buy and usually grow away better than older trees, but for the beginner it is probably better to buy trees up to three or more years old which have already been shaped by the nurseryman.

Planting can be done at any time between November and March providing the weather is fine and the ground not frozen; make sure that the trees have a good root system with plenty of fibrous roots attached. Many garden centres now have fruit trees established in containers which enable planting to be carried out at more or less any time of the year with the least possible disturbance of the root ball.

In all cases fruit trees that are to be grown against a wall prefer a fertile and well-drained soil that has been well dug and prepared before planting as the trees are to remain in that one position for many years to come; this particularly applies to apples and pears. On poor sandy or acid soil, well decayed manure or compost should be incorporated with the addition of a moderate amount of old mortar rubble or some other form of lime; this is particularly beneficial to plums, gages and other stone fruits.

All fruits require plenty of light and moisture during the growing season, and ample space to grow and develop, so the correct distance between trees should be ascertained before planting. It is also wise to avoid planting too close to large surface rooting trees such as elm and poplar, which can soon become a nuisance and impoverish the soil within the borders adjoining the wall.

Once the young trees have been planted, staking and wiring the wall will be necessary to keep the tree firmly in position, and for tying in the new growth as it develops.

Where ample wall space is available the common fig (Ficus carica) is worth growing, chiefly for its fruit, although its handsome ornamental foliage is also most attractive during the summer months. Figs require plenty of sun and warmth and therefore prefer a south-facing wall. It is generally accepted that ripe fruits are more often obtained from trees which are grown in the warmer areas such as the south and west of England, conditions further north of the country being generally too cold for success. One of the most popular and reliable varieties to grow is ‘Brown Turkey’.

Figs are generally fan trained to obtain the best results, tying in new healthy growth when necessary during the growing season. The roots should be confined to a restricted area in order to encourage fruit production, so the fig can be grown in a narrow border.

Winter pruning consists mainly of cutting out all diseased or frost damaged wood and other weak growth which crosses the main branches; this should be done during late March when the severe winter weather has passed.



Dessert (eating)

Beauty of Bath (August)

Egremont Russet (October-November)

Epicure (August-September)

James Grieve (September-October)

Laxton’s Fortune (September-October)

Ellison’s Orange (September-November)

Sunset (November-December)

Cox’s Orange Pippin (November-January)

Tydeman’s Late Orange (April-February)



Williams Bon Chretien (September)

Louise Bonne of Jersey (October)

Beurre Superfin (October)

Beurre Hardy (October)

Doyenne du Cornice (November)

Conference (October-November)


Dessert and culinary

Victoria (mid August)

Pershore (late August) Warwickshire Drooper (September) Marjorie’s Seedling (September)



Cambridge Gage (end of August)

Denniston’s Superb (mid August)

Oullins Golden Gage (mid August)

Jefferson (early September)


Moorpark (August)


John Rivers (mid July)

Lord Napier (early August)

Humboldt (mid August)

Pine Apple (early September)


Hale’s Early (July) Peregrine (early August) Rochester (early August) Royal George (end of August) Bellegarde (early to mid September)


Most sweet cherries grow too vigorously to be trained to a limited space on a back garden wall. There is not yet a dwarfing rootstock for cherries which would control their growth. Another difficulty with cherries is that at least two different cultivars need to be planted together to get pollination and fruiting. These two problems can be partially overcome by planting a tree of the self-fertile variety ‘Stella’ on the rootstock ‘Colt’, which is semi-dwarfing.

Acid cherries, e.g. ‘Morello’, are suitable for walls as they are self-fertile and relatively small trees which can be easily trained, usually in the fan-form.


Vines can also be grown against walls and are very amenable to training. The usual form, however, is a vertical cordon with one or more branches spaced at 3-1/2 to 4 feet (1.2 m) apart, so allowing space for the fruiting lateral shoots. Among suitable cultivars are:


Perle de Czaba (late September)

New York Muscat (mid to end October)

Chasselas (late October)


Noir Hatif de Marseilles (late September) Cascade (Seibel 13.053) (early October) Muscat Bleu (mid-October)

Soft fruit

Red and white currants and gooseberries can also be grown against walls, with one, two or even three vertical “arms”.

25. May 2014 by admin
Categories: Featured | Comments Off on Wall-Trained Fruit


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