For a couple months now we’ve been considering adding a columnar apple tree to our deck. If you’re not familiar with columnar trees, they are specially created to grow to a limited height while hardly growing out at all. In other words, they’re a great fit for small spaces, as they’ll reach just eight feet tall or so and only grow out 18 inches to two feet. They stand in a pot, and from everything we’ve heard the fruit is full sized and tastes great…
So this weekend while at the nursery, we caved and picked one up. The little guy we took home is just a stick at the moment, standing almost four feet tall but with little buds all around. It’s a golden sentinel and rumor has it these trees can sometimes produce fruit in their first year.
Our new tree got us talking with a friend of ours who has espalier madness. Espalier is another way of growing fruit trees in small spaces, by pruning the trees into a flat shape. Espalier trees often use multiple grafts, and our friend has claimed dibs on a graft from our little columnar. He's got visions of his own monster frankensteined apple tree, its limbs heavy and lumbering with fuji, honeycrisp and yes, eventually golden sentinel.
Here are a couple videos on the espalier technique: