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Espaliered Perspective

Espalier Form

Espalier Form

The word espalier is French, and it comes from the Italian spalliera, meaning “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against.”

Espalier is a gardening technique practiced in gardens of Egyptian Pharaohs, middle age monks, and French kings. One of the more famous locations where espalier is displayed is at Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France


EXCERPT – chapter 7, Poppy’s Perspective

Through the screen door she spotted her grandfather tending lemon, lime and orange trees which he had trained in espalier fashion along the western fence. Mastering espalier technique involves understanding how the plant responds to pruning cuts and shape manipulation. Poppy had chosen the buds he wanted to form into branches on a two rail fence like the one in Monet’s garden, cultivating them with a patient, curative touch.

The fragrant flowers of spring had bloomed into full-size fruit along the flat planes of branch. The citrus would mature over the next several months, their green skins ripening to yellow. It is said that Monet would not have become the painter he became if he wasn’t the gardener he was. Echo believed the reverse was true for Poppy. Poppy’s healing gift extended to vitalizing plants – evidenced by the exceptionally healthy trees bearing fruit in abundance on which fungus didn’t dare intrude.


Poppy lived in the other half of their shotgun house. Their shared back yard extended their living space. Personalized areas of sanctuary created a distinctive courtyard microcosm.

At the far end of the deep but narrow lot sat a shallow out building. Separate entrances gave Hawke and Poppy their own workshops. Glass paneled doors and skylights provided plenty of natural light.

Out the door and down the steps, past the last of summer’s tomatoes and peppers growing in above-ground vegetable garden squares, she plucked a cherry tomato still damp with morning dew, popped it into her mouth and smacked her lips, savoring the flavor. Steadying her mug of tea in her left hand, she leaned down to where her grandfather knelt in the garden, giving him a one arm hug. “Good morning, Poppy.”

The moss separating the pave stones felt cool to her bare feet. Crossing the yard, she sat at the edge of a small pond. She often practiced her tai chi in this refuge spot. The hypnotizing sound of the water spray and sight of gold fish swimming between rocks and bog plants invited reflection.

Poppy tilted his head back looking up from under the brim of his worn and stained plantation straw hat. He still wore his hair in a long plait, its red now faded to a lighter strawberry color. “Mornin’ Shă. What are you musing on today?”

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