The architectural beauty of your dormant espaliers is pleasing to see through a windowpane, as you sit cozy and warm. Now get your pruners, and meet us outside.
Yes, we are aware it looks cold out there. You will however thank us, come spring, when your beautifully trained pear trees and trellised vines reward you with well-behaved bursts of buds. The French, those lovers of symmetry and manicured grass and distant vistas in the garden, may have perfected the art of pruning plants against flat planes. But the rest of us can catch up to the 17th-century excesses of Le Potager du Roi with a few snips, to judiciously shape the palmette verrier ahead of its new spring shoots. This, like most any chore in the garden, is far easier to accomplish than the results will imply.
Above: A fruit tree resembles a classic Parisian goblet, from the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden's archives, via The Lovely Plants.
Above: Some motivation: the well-tended gardens of Rod Manor, an 18th-century estate in southeastern Norway, where vines are trained on a trellis, via Beyer.
Above: Apple trees domed to form a sheltering arbor, via My Rubber Boots.
Above: To achieve similar results, focus on the plant's silhouette as you remove stray branches, using an angled pruning cut, via Chris Priestley. An excellent source for obtaining inspiration—or an actual espalier by post or freight, for that matter—is Henry Leuthardt Nurseries.
Above: In the fruit garden of an 18th century castle in Ireland, a collection of 30 old varieties of apple trees are trained along a fence on wires, via Ardgillan Castle.
Above: Velcro straps via Garden Amateur help the modern gardener to achieve similar results; remember to loosen them as the plant grows.
Above: A serpentine pattern creates a charming heart shape, via Simple Garden Art. And now, back inside where it's warm; you've earned your tea.