Asked by: Mick from Hampshire, 18-Sep-2012
Hi, I'd like to try and espalier a pear and an apple tree, I've not tried this before so easy to grow varieties are probably a good idea.
I was thinking of 1 Conference pear and 1 Braeburn or cox's orange pippin apple, each ultimately about 6' tall and 12' wide.
They will get good sun (SW facing).
The soil is heavy clay.
What root stock should I use?
What varieties would you recommend given the heavy clay soil?
Thanks for your help,
I see you are in the sunniest part of the UK, and with a SW facing aspect so you are off to a good start.
You can improve the clay soil by mixing in some quality topsoil or farmyard manure etc. before planting.
Conference is a good choice, one of the easiest pears to grow.
Braeburn is also a possibility, you are in one of the few places in the UK where you are likely to get ripe apples from it.
Unless you really want the formal symmetry of an espalier, I would consider fan-training instead, as it is a bit more forgiving if things don't quite go to plan.
To achieve the widths you require I would choose MM106 rootstock for the apple, and probably Quince A for the pear. However if you wanted a more balanced look (for example if you are planting them side by side) you might be better with just apples (or just pears). Generally speaking, when training trees yourself, it is better for the rootstock to be a bit too vigorous than not vigorous enough.