Pat Morgan of Westlake Village wrote to the SoCal Garden Clinic to ask:
My fig tree was started from a cutting three years ago and was recently transplanted to our atrium. It has been in a container in the same place for over a year. How should I create an espalier frame for it?
For an answer we turned to Alan Uchida, the nurseryman at Bellefontaine in Pasadena. He writes:
Espalier is a technique for growing plants against a flat, vertical surface. Among the benefits is an abundance of fruit in a relatively small space. The fig is particular good for espaliering because it has flexible branches when young and produces all of that fruit very fast.
The process is simple: Though you certainly could build your own support structure, first-timers might simply want to buy a strong trellis with a nice design. Then gently bend branches to the shape of your choosing, and secure them to the horizontal bars of the trellis using simple plastic ties available at nurseries.