I have always loved the idea of espalier apple trees as a natural and very attractive fence that also produces food. This is a winning combination in my opinion. I think what stopped me from getting some sooner was the price tag - they are about $75 each and for the area I was planning I needed 4.
I finally decided to make the investment this year and bought 4 trees. I decided to go with 2 Honeycrisp Apples and 2 that had 3 different varieties on a single plant. You need other apple types to cross pollinate Honeycrisp apples so worth keeping in mind. As I was not going to have the time to plant them in their final positions until the following weekend I just dug a shallow hole so that all of their roots would be kept moist. The following weekend I went to get them planted and was horrified to see that the ends of the 3 branches had been chewed off and in many places bark had been chewed as well. If you know anything about espalier apples you have about 6 chances per plant for the branches to grow and in each case I lost 3 - 4, I was VERY unhappy. I knew that I could train a spur into the horizontal branch but this was not ideal.
I got on with things and planted them and they started growing, for the most part. The lowest of the 3 horizontal branches was at a height that the rabbits could get to them and eat all of the new growth. These poor trees had lived through hell up until this point. I decided it was time for some major action and I decided to put chicken wire all around the base of the plants, not the most attractive accompaniment to these trees but I was left with little choice.
As it is April the leaves are just starting to appear so it will be fun to see how they grow this year. Regardless I need to wait another year until I start eating the fruit.