You can buy quite young espaliers that are already started into training and grow them on, trimming a couple of times a year. Mine was less than half the size when I bought it from Windy Hill Farm in Gt. Barrington, MA probably 8 or 10. I added a set or two of "arms" along the way as it got bigger. I swear you can espalier and train most anything, but fruit trees are easy compared to really slow-growing things because you get many more choices of branches to work with (and then fruit!). You can buy young fruit trees on dwarf rootstock from mail order sources or local nurseries (the dwarf rootstock thing is important so you don’t get too big a tree to keep in check). The Chicago Botanic Garden (also in a cold climate) has a good one-pager on starting an espalier fruit tree of your own: http://www.chicago-botanic.org/plantinfo/how-to/espalier.php
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.