Whether you're short on garden space or need to decorate a dull wall, an easy espalier offers big rewards.

Why would anyone take a perfectly nice plant and flatten it against a wall? No, it's not the earmark of compulsive gardeners with too much time on their hands or some strange form of horticultural revenge. Classic espaliers use fruit trees or red-berried pyracantha and cotoneaster, but few take advantage of flowering shrubs and trees. Espalier, especially simple forms such as this gently fanned camellia, is actually beneficial to a flowering shrub and remarkably easy to train and maintain.

Good Choices for a Flowering Espalier
If you want to decorate a sunny wall, use camellia for cold weather bloom, but consider using crepe myrtle for summer flowers. Its gracefully twisting branches and unique bark will be lovely all year. For partly shaded walls that need color, try training flowering quince, redbud, or Star magnolia as espaliers.

"Gardening on the Wall" is from the November 2000 issue of Southern Living.