Summer Pruning my 4-tier ‘Sunset’ Espalier: High speed video


How to prune box balls and topiary

▲ The box balls in front have just been clipped, but the large one at the rear waits its turn.

For good results you will need really sharp shears, one-handed shears or garden scissors for detail and some kind of mat or cloth to catch clippings. Continue reading

Espalier trained Japanese holly


(Updated July 2016. One of the trained Japanese hollies, with new shade planting at its feet)

I came across four rather nice Japanese hollies at the garden centre recently. Realising their creative pruning potential I snapped up the lot. Here is one of them (see right)


I’m not sure exactly what species they are: the label said Ilex Maxim which is not the proper nomenclature. I’m pretty sure it’s not I. crenata as that has smaller leaves, whereas these are quite box like and spineless. I. crenata is often used for creating Niwake – Japanese garden trees – pruned in cloud style over many years to resemble much older trees in a stylised and abstract way. The label that came with my new best friends claimed they were fast growing, and I could tell their wippy branches were just begging to be bent to my will.

I had a place in mind for two of them – the long face of my garden workshop, either side of the doors. My plan being to train them into neatly clipped 4 tier horizontal espaliers – much like pyracanthas that are one of the few non-fruiting trees that still gets the espalier treatment from time to time.

They are to form an interesting back drop to a narrow bed of shade loving hostas and ferns. This bed is too narrow to carry any tall plants, without them looking like regimented soldiers so wall training is an ideal option. The shade-tolerant Ilex fit the bill perfectly as this wall faces a little north of east,rarely getting the sun, except in the late summer afternoon. Continue reading