Pomme Trees, A Love Story



red appleSlim Paley Photo

Once upon a time, several years ago, some apple trees were planted on our property. These trees were a little special because they had been espaliered and  successfully grown together in a very beautiful manner. Espaliered fruit trees are usually created against walls or on trellises but these babies stood unaided by any support.


*Espalier  is the horticultural and ancient agricultural practice of controlling woody plant growth by pruning and tying branches so that they grow into a flat plane, frequently in formal patterns, against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis, and also plants which have been shaped in this way.[1]. via Wikipedia

.espaliered apple trees

Slim Paley photo

This photo is several years old and shows them just about to lose their leaves.

Unfortunately, in order to make room for some changes in the garden, the trees had to be evicted.

The jury was divided (no pun intended) as to whether or not they could be separated and saved…but how could we not at least try??

The trees were dug up and put into huge boxes, 2 or 3 to a box, depending on where and how tightly they were holding hands.  (those photos got eaten on my old hard-drive)

One season quickly turned to the next, and the next while they patiently waited to once again be thinking outside of the box.

Over two years passed (I told you I never do anything quickly)  before we were finally able to reunite these comrades in arms


Slim Paley photo

Boy, were they happy to see each other!



red apples Slim PaleySlim Paley Photo

While the branches that had to be severed will probably not  grow back together (but never say never) the trees are all back in terra firma and totally thriving.

and the apples are delicious!

I know I always say this but Mother Nature just never ceases to amaze me



apple orchard Slim PaleySlim Paley Photo

..perfect red apple Slim PaleySlim Paley photo



Rene Magritte


.apples, Slim Paley kitchenSlim Paley Photo

All washed…

and ready to make a pie

.red garden apples, Slim PaleySlim Paley Photo

Just kidding.

I could never make a good apple pie. It’s just not in my genes

Plus, once you’ve had my friend’s apple pie, you’re spoiled for life. No joke.





Slim Paley photo



Perfect apple gathering dress- just throw them into your waistband



beautiful apples from my garden, Slim PaleySlim Paley photo

Such resilience is inspiring 🙂





Slim Paley Photo



fibre installation by artist Aude Marie Franjou



Photo via French Essence blog



homemade apple pie, Slim PaleySlim Paley photo

My friend’s homemade apple pie


PERFECT pie crust, Slim PaleySlim Paley Photo

hey!  Back off- Don’t bite the blog!



Francois-Xavier & Claude Lalanne




Don’t you love a happy ending?!



  1. Apple pie, my very favorite. Interesting story about your apple trees. Your friend’s pie, looks amazing. Thanks slim for another great post.

    B J

  2. What a nice apple tree story. And those pies look just like my mom used to make…I sure miss her as well as those pies. How do they get the rugged crust
    look? My crust always turns out too smooth but I’ve got the filling down. The deer ate most of our apples this year but farmers market has some great varieties.

  3. I was just searching eBay (to no avail) for some old, brown leather riding boots (and feeling rather grim that I lost a pair last week…the pair that became my “I love drinking scotch in these old, brown, leather, riding boots) and as I slowly turned off eBay for the evening, feeling ever so slightly “disappointed,” I happened to open my email and found your post.

    And my mood shifted.

    Apples are one of my favorite fruits and I love seeing the espaliered trees. They are a work of art. Also a belated thanks for the wonderful posts on “Girls will be Boys” and “Haute Halloween.” I meant to write sooner, but those were “knock ’em out of the park” posts. (I especially enjoyed the McQueen moments, and not to be outdone, the throwing up pumpkin.)

    So as I turn in for the night, I’m in a much better frame of mind.
    Merci mille fois.

  4. Just Beautiful. So great the trees were saved. I know what you mean about nature. I never get over the beautiful nature here in Carmel and adjacent areas–always dazzling.

    I loved that Steve Jobs worked in an apple orchard and loved apples so much….that’s why we insanely addicted MacHeads have our beloved Apple stores . I wondered why Chris Martin & Gwyneth Paltrow named their baby Apple…then discovered they were great friends with Jobs…so perhaps that’s why. Apple is a pretty word…attached to so much good.

  5. I am amazed these espaliered trees could survive and thrive. Now if I only lived close enough to have some of that pie.

  6. At the risk of being a total idiot (I take this risk a lot!) – why does it say in french “This is not an apple” below the drawing of an apple?

    Love your apple trees and am very happy they survived and thrived.

  7. I have a dirty little apple pie secret…baked a pie to take to a tailgating party. One friend, after eating some came to me hugged and kissed me and said that my homemade pie made him understand why men went to war over apple pie…some variation on the Mom and apple pie aphorism. Did NOT have the heart to disclose that I used the pre-made Pillsbury crusts. But putting pats of butter in before adding the top crust is MY mothers secret so I sooth myself that the overall appeal was there. The assumption that it was from scratch haunts me still…kind of.

    Your corsetted trees are, per the SP esthetic, quite lovely. xoxo mo

  8. As a child every picture I drew had an apple tree in it, there’s something about an apple tree that makes pictures happy… apple pie – yes please!!!

  9. Great story about ” les pommiers” of your garden.
    The apple gathering dress! so funny.
    Just waiting for your production of Calvados! Cheers!

  10. I have always loved the look of espaliered fruit trees in those old illuminated manuscript prints. A couple of years ago, my neighbors put up a hideous grey cement block wall around their property. While I loved the privacy, it was very tall and looked like a prison wall. I painted the wall and planted bare root apple trees along the wall espaliered them. They haven’t given me any fruit yet, but they look amazing! I can’t wait until mine look like yours.

  11. We just had a belgian fence exactly like yours planted in our yard. Ours are liberty apples, is that what yours are? I am so excited seeing the apples you get, it gives me hope!! They are so beautiful.

  12. Great post. Espaliered trees always so chic! It sent me rushing to the kitchen for a crunchy apple a friend just brought me supply of from his ranch! I love the photo of the box of apples!!! So like 17th century Dutch painting, particularly Vermeer, Metsu and van Honthurst. Really beautiful photo. They all are great. And tempting. Think I’m ready for another apple so off to kitchen………..

  13. Is your friend, my friend? She makes the greatest apple pies and she lives really close to me.
    Love all your blogs, each one brings something new, and I love the happy ending photo.


  14. Slim,
    Love the love story. More than that, I’ve always wanted to have an espaliered apple tree, just not sure I have the weather for it to thrive. This story makes me want to try. Your trees are incredible the way they grew together “holding hands”.
    So what’s going in that part of the garden (or has already been planted)?
    Must have a piece of apple pie ala mode this weekend.

  15. Thoroughly enjoyed this autumn post.

    Love the apple picking outfit – very practical.

    Will you be posting the apple pie recipe asap by any chance?
    Really need it for my recipe collection.

    PS Yes, you can bake an apple pie! 🙂
    You baked Martha’s concord grape pie …

  16. Everything is beautiful! Please, please, pie crust recipe from your friend. Perhaps, maybe? Such tender looking flakes, oh my. I love pastry!

  17. Love it all. But can you tell me what that “thing” next to your kitchen door is ? Hanging on the rooster hook? I love looking at everything in all your rooms. Gotta run buy some apples for a pie !! It’s finally below 100 in Dallas !!

  18. Pingback: Pomme Trees, A Love Story

  19. Why is this post so touching to me? Is it because you cared enough to save the trees that had been so lovingly cared for over the years? Is it the thought that these trees need each other to stand and survive? Is it that nature is so beautiful? All of the above?

    An apple a day…..

  20. I had never heard of espaliered apple trees until this post, but I love the look of them! What a great idea. Thank you for introducing me to them.

    I have an apple tree story of my own: When my youngest son was five, he and I shared an apple for lunch one day. Just a regular, grocery store apple. When we cut into it, we noticed the seeds had sprouted. We decided to plant them in a pot to see what would happen. Well, we got the beginnings of a tree, which quickly outgrew the first pot and then the second pot and then we planted it outside. By this time it was about 3 feet tall. When he was 9, we moved to another state and we dug up the tree, stuffed it into our car (it was about 6 feet tall and quite bushy!) and planted it in our new yard. A year later, we moved again (not far) and we brought the tree with us. My son is now 15, taller than I am and the tree must be about 20 feet tall! This past spring it had blossoms and then little apples for the first time. Unfortunately, the squirrels discovered the apples so we didn’t get to enjoy them, but we are hopeful for next year! But now I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to move again…

    You have motivated me to make an apple pie this weekend! Thanks for another great post!


    • Susan- This is a beautiful story and reminds me of a favorite book–Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.” (Which always chokes me up.) You must write your own book about this, if only as a family heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation. You are a great mother and I am inspired to have such a “story that pulls on our hearts” for my little ones.

  21. Slim love this post. Photos were gorgeous. Is there nothing more beautiful than a simple apple? We too had espaliered apples that were a mix of gala, golden delicious, granny smith and fuji. We enjoyed them for 10 years until we moved last Fall. Hope they are being appreciated now!

    I look forward to all your posts. Fantastic blog!

  22. I love the look of the branches how they criss cross like little paper dolls holding hands. So cute! I’d love for you to post the apple pie recipe too!

  23. Lovely Post, sweet story. I miss my Mothers apple pie also. I agree with S.M. we do share a friend who makes a wicked pie, she loves to bake and everything she makes is delicious.
    Now I am hungry also. ox

  24. I knew there was a reason I liked you—you value life-living things–that is a wonderful trait. Most people wouldn’t have cared whether the trees lived or died but you rescued them-yay!
    What variety are the apples? Can any apple be espaliered? Are they sweet, tart, soft, firm, juicy–I am intrigued? Thanks for the post!

  25. I once had an apple tree, it came with the house. Then, it’s center sprouted a pepper tree! It’s true…that tree louse!
    A really big papple tree it all became and wouldn’t you know…it was so lame…when the big winds arrived and as they say…’they huffed and they puffed and they blew it away.’ It killed the papple tree to which I laid claim.
    Now, I am in search for a new apple type, one that’s firm-fleshed, a pomme tree delight. It must like the sun’s warmth and not need the cold. Wow! Could yours be the one? Lo, and behold?!!

  26. I’m a novice gardener, Slim, so forgive me for asking this, but when you say your apple trees stayed in bags for 2 years, do you mean that they weren’t watered or cared for until you took them out and planted them? No pampering or putting in the fridge like bulbs or anything???

  27. Apples… can’t live w/out them! Really! Aren’t they the best? Sweet, juicy, nutritious. We also have an apple tree here. Love it!

    SP, thank you for your last comment. I’m happy you liked my post and thank you for your sweet words.

    Have a blessed weekend.


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  28. I really love the posts threading food, nature and fashion into one gorgeous weave. I really love the comments, too. Whenever Slim wants to throw a blog-fan-conference, I will make the drive down the I five to participate

  29. Oh Slim wow, I adore espaliered fruit trees! Two years? Those are happy apple trees! I tried pears, against a wall, and did everything but sing lullabies to them every night, but to no avail. My Aunt had a garden that overlooked San Francisco, and she could grow everything, even without your gorgeous sun. I knew that I wanted her beautiful fruit trees when I had a house of my own.Now I am going to have to give it another go, yours are gorgeous! Your Posts are so beautiful and well thought out, I look forward to them and am never disappointed! Thank you. Pam
    PS That pie looks like it’s unbelievable!

  30. Kathryn; “I love drinking scotch in these old, brown, leather, riding boots”
    I love the Hemingwayesque sound of that!

    Kate; That Magritte- a very talented ironic artist that was perhaps smoking apple seeds?!

    Meaux; your dirty little secret is safe with us 🙂

    Spirit; my friend lives here, in Santa Barbara. Amongst many talents, she is a cook sans pareil

    Karen; that part of the property is still the garden but totally reconfigured. The trees are not that far away from where they were originally (perhaps that’s why they are thriving) but now they run vertically instead of horizontally.

    Linny; in the time it took me to make the pastry, cut the botanically correct grape leaves out of the pastry, seed the concord grapes, and clean up the mess, Martha went through a divorce and probably built another house. Sadly, baking is just not my forte’

    Judy; The “thing” hanging from the rooster hook is a giant spooned colander.

    Susan B; LOVE your story!!

    Christine; sorry about your “Papple” tree! You have to watch those ‘volunteers’ though. Also trees that have a split often get weak and keel over easily in the wind, I’ve had that issue with willows. I guess the marriage was just not meant to be.

    Nancy & Kate; No, they were put in big wooden crates- probably measuring 60″ across. The photo of them about to lose their leaves is deceiving- they are probably about 9-10ft tall? They were on a drip system attached to the boxes.

    Gazelle in Vancouver; Blog-Fan Conference Under the Apple Trees!

    Sorry everyone- but I’ve been told the apples are no less than 3 different varieties so I’m not going to go out on a limb and say for sure what they’re called. They are a true cherry red, with some yellow on the outside, and the inside is slightly yellow, not white like Granny Smith. They are medium to large size and quite sweet. They’re not perfect, but who or what is?!

    I do believe any type of apple tree could be espaliered.

  31. TA, Ta, Dah Dah!
    I give you my friend’s gorgeous
    that she kindly wrote out for us today!;

    Crust…. Put in food processor: 2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. Pulse it to mix. Add 1, 3/4 sticks chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Empty mix into a large bowl and with a large mixing fork, mix in 2 or 3 tbs. of ice water or enough to have the dough come together. Form into 2 discs, wrap in lightly floured waxed paper and keep in the refrigerator while you prepare the following…..

    Filling….Peel about 8 to 10 crisp apples (I use Pink Ladies when I can find them or Fuji or Gala…never Pippin or Granny Smith.) Cut each in quarters, core and slice into 8 or 10 slices. In the same large bowl that you used to make the crust, mix 3/4 c sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.

    Remove1 disc from refrigerator and roll it out to a 12″ circle. I do it between 2 sheets of floured waxed paper. Try to keep the flour to a minimum in order to keep the dough tender. Fit the dough into a chilled 10″ pie plate and refrigerate. Rollout the second disc and refrigerate it on a cookie sheet between the the 2 sheets of waxed paper.

    Add the sliced apples to the sugar mixture and toss them well. Place the apples into the chilled pie plate. I place each slice in by hand starting around the edge and working toward the center. Pack them in tightly so you can have a good looking, high pie. Dot them with pieces of the 1/4 stick of butter and drizzle the top with 2 tbs of lemon juice. Remove the second crust and place it over the top and crimp the edges together or roll the edges. Brush the top with a little 1/2 and 1/2 or milk. Slash the top with a sharp knife about 6 times to allow the steam to escape, and place in a preheated 425 oven for 20 minutes then lower to 350 for another 30 minutes or so. Remove the pie when it’s golden brown as depicted in Slim’s picture. Good luck.

  32. Thank you kindly, S. P. It was so very nice of your friend to share her recipe, and so very nice of you to take the time to share it here. Bless your heart, I do appreciate it! And so will my family and friends. This will be our dessert this weekend, served with a cuppa steamin’ coffee! 🙂

  33. You forgot the most special beautiful apple CORTLAND , my daughter! As you have seen on my FB, was named after the apple because like my Swedish grandmother, we both craved apples everyday when we were expecting. xo

  34. I’m thinking that your apples might be one that Cuyama Orchards grows. It is very near to you. Seems like a good reason for a field trip if they will share any information with us apple-growing newbies…as if I ever need a reason to travel to your environs!

  35. Slim, that is a truly inspiring story. I have always dreamed of having a big beautiful “Martha” garden but, alas, I only enjoy the planning and planting phase. After that… I desert the poor little things and they all die. It’s actually quite sad. I will just have to be content to watch your garden grow.

Would love to hear from you!