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If you thought training fruit was a simple matter of arranging the branches in a sort of fan-shape against a wall, think again.

You can trim them into single stems – cordons – trimming off all the side shoots to encourage fruiting spurs from the main stem only. If you’ve heard of espaliers and fan-training, you’ve probably heard of cordons. The advantage to this is you get to pack about five varieties into a ten-foot space. You can grow cordons upright (though you get less fruit I believe) – like this:

And it doesn’t have to be apples: this is a redcurrant (‘Redstart’) trained as a double-cordon.

And if you want to know what a double cordon is – here you go. You just allow that single stem to branch, once: doesn’t take up much more space and doubles your yield.

You can train them along a fence into a hedge…


…or over an arch to make a tunnel.

Or if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can build a sort of free-standing cage and train your fruit up that. Here’s one they made earlier…

… and here’s another one with a pointy top.

I’m a bit sceptical about cage training – can’t see how you’d keep the air circulating around the centre of the fruit tree, and if you can’t do that it’s a recipe for fungal disease – but I’m willing to be convinced, and it sure does look pretty.

Thank you once again to Jim Buckland, Sarah Wain and the team at West Dean Gardens, near Chichester, for playing around experimenting and showing us all we don’t necessarily have to do it like that.

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