Author Topic: Berries on the fence  (Read 8423 times)

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Knitterly

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Berries on the fence
« on: August 18, 2013, 08:50:30 PM »
Until very recently, I'd thought this was a cut and dried situation.  It hadn't occurred to me at all that there was even the possibility that I was being rude.

I share a fence with the neighbours behind me.  About 2 years ago, they planted blackberry bushes.  Last year, the bushes crept into our side of the fence.  Mr K, being allergic to blackberries, was pretty mad and totally ready to cut the bushes off our side of the fence.  I convinced him not to because, hey... free berries!  And I love berries.

As it turned out, Little Knit loves berries even more than I do and... free berries!  So we enjoyed them last year.

This year, we have gotten an absolutely ridiculous amount of berries.  Pints upon pints upon pints.  We cannot eat them faster than they are going bad and I have several jars of blackberry jam and preserves, not to mention about 2 quarts of berries in  a bowl in the fridge and at least half that ripe ready for picking.  As far as I am concerned, these are my berries.  On the one hand, I recognize that I am enjoying them because my neighbours planted them, but on the other hand, I would not have planted them myself.
There is no question of them being on my side of the fence.  If anyone wants to see a picture, I can snap and post one.  They are at least 6" and in some cases a foot into my yard.  I kept trying to poke the branches back through the fence for the neighbour, but they just keep coming through the fence.  It's a double-sided wooden privacy fence.

So that's the background.  Here's where I got confused:

I was outside last week picking more berries.  My neighbour called through the fence and said
"Hi, the berries are good for eating.  Feel free to enjoy them."
I brushed it off as awkward phrasing, but it sounded an awful lot like he was giving me permission to pick the berries that are on my side of the fence.   I had to keep brushing it off every time I went out to pick the berries, but I was determined not to read too much into it. 

Last night, my sister and brother in law came over.  They were admiring our backyard and noticed the berries.  My brother in law commented on how many we had and asked if they crept over to the neighbour's side.  Mr K and I let him know that they were from the neighbour's side.  Then he asked if the neighbours minded us picking and keeping them.

And then I went  :o
Why should they mind?  They are my berries!  My yard = my berries.

And then I went.... ???  My berries?  Right?  My yard, my berries?

And so I ask...
Should I have asked permission to keep the berries?

Was I rude not to ask?


Addendum, as many folks seem more concerned about the legality than the politeness:  There is no local bylaw prohibiting me from enjoying the fruit that grows through the fence.  Technically, there is one prohibiting my neighbours from planting where they did so the fruit encroaches on my property.  I have no intention of complaining, though, as I enjoy the fruit.  Blackberry bushes fall into an entirely separate category from trees.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 10:50:45 AM by Knitterly »

Zizi-K

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2013, 08:55:47 PM »
No way, you were just fine. If you have a privacy fence, there's no way the neighbors could legally harvest the berries that are coming on to your side - they'd have to come on to your property to do so. It sounds like they can't even really see the extent to which the bush has come across. I think your neighbor was just hoping the berries that s/he couldn't access weren't going to waste, and hence made the comment to you. I wouldn't think another thought about it. Just imagine how many they have if the majority of the plant is on the other side - they probably don't want to look at another berry!

JoieGirl7

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2013, 09:16:12 PM »
Nothing wrong at all with harvesting the berries on your side but I don't know why you are upset at the neighbor's comment.

You still have them to thank for you getting mounds and mounds of free berries because they planted and maintain the bush.  They could trim the branches before they get to your yard or uproot it completely and plant one completely withing their yard.

JenJay

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2013, 09:16:55 PM »
I think you're fine. Except for either end of the bush, the neighbors couldn't get to the vines on your side even if they wanted to. I see no reason for you to sit there and watch them rot.

DH and I had a fenced yard with a busy street behind it. There was an 8-10ft easement between our fence and the street that was our property, we'd have to mow and maintain it, but it was otherwise unused. When we bought the house the area was really overgrown so we cleaned it up and trimmed the blackberries off the fence and back from the sidewalk but otherwise left it alone. One evening we were going for a walk around the block and there was a couple with a bucket picking blackberries in "our" yard, which was no biggie to us. We stopped and grabbed a handful each and were about to continue walking when the lady grumped "Um, we were picking here." DH said "This is actually our property, we own that house (pointing over the fence)." She turned bright red so we both reassured her that we didn't mind them picking, we couldn't possibly eat all the berries, but they still left.  :-\

Library Dragon

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2013, 09:20:31 PM »
I think you're fine.  I also think your neighbor was indicating that he knows you have a right to the berries in your yard.

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AuntyEm

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2013, 09:37:26 PM »
Your neighbors should be happy that you aren't annoyed with their blackberry branches coming through your fence--from what I've heard they can be very invasive and hard to eradicate. That said, nothing better than a fresh blackberry pie!

We had a pear tree that would bear every two years and tons of fruit would fall into the neighbor's yard.  I always felt really bad about it and would climb through the hedge sometimes to pick up as many as I could and get rid of them.  They never complained which I thought was nice--it was an old pretty tree and I didn't want to cut it down.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2013, 09:44:03 PM »
They are on your side; you are perfectly entitled to them.  My pumpkin plant went through the fence and there is a pumpkin growing on my neighbour's side.  I'm going to ask them if they want it but if they don't, I'll take it back.

You would also be perfectly entitled to cut them off at the fence line when they get to the point that the growth is way too much.

My oak tree overhangs the neighbour's yard.  I don't collect the acorns on their side but the squirrels tend to take care of those.  I do ask if he wants any branches trimmed.  And if I'm doing any trimming, I'll ask permission to go on their property, if I need to.
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Cuddlepie

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2013, 09:47:44 PM »
There is an old law or rquirement I don't know which, from the year dot that arisings (fruit etc) that grew from a tree in your neighbour's garden should be offered back to them.  These days very few of us grow ALL our own fruit and vegetables so this knowledge has become less well known and most of us happily allow neighbours to pick anything growing over and beyond the property line. 

Presuming that this 'rule' applied in other countries than my own, then your neighbour's comment could possibly come from him knowing how things happened in years past.

Poppea

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2013, 09:54:45 PM »
There is an old law or rquirement I don't know which, from the year dot that arisings (fruit etc) that grew from a tree in your neighbour's garden should be offered back to them.  These days very few of us grow ALL our own fruit and vegetables so this knowledge has become less well known and most of us happily allow neighbours to pick anything growing over and beyond the property line. 

Presuming that this 'rule' applied in other countries than my own, then your neighbour's comment could possibly come from him knowing how things happened in years past.

Could you please show a citation for this? 

squeakers

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2013, 10:10:28 PM »
There is an old law or rquirement I don't know which, from the year dot that arisings (fruit etc) that grew from a tree in your neighbour's garden should be offered back to them.  These days very few of us grow ALL our own fruit and vegetables so this knowledge has become less well known and most of us happily allow neighbours to pick anything growing over and beyond the property line. 

Presuming that this 'rule' applied in other countries than my own, then your neighbour's comment could possibly come from him knowing how things happened in years past.

Could you please show a citation for this?

It's a UK rule: http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/rights-trees-and-overhanging-branches.html
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Rohanna

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2013, 10:12:35 PM »
Around here it's the opposite- anything that reaches into my yard is technically mine to have or prune. My neighbours beans try to strangle my cedars and I am continually trimming them back. I also keep the grapes that grow on my side of the chain link fence- though I have no idea who they originally "belonged" to as they predate both of us.
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Knitterly

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2013, 10:16:01 PM »
There is an old law or rquirement I don't know which, from the year dot that arisings (fruit etc) that grew from a tree in your neighbour's garden should be offered back to them.  These days very few of us grow ALL our own fruit and vegetables so this knowledge has become less well known and most of us happily allow neighbours to pick anything growing over and beyond the property line. 

Presuming that this 'rule' applied in other countries than my own, then your neighbour's comment could possibly come from him knowing how things happened in years past.

Could you please show a citation for this?

It's a UK rule: http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/rights-trees-and-overhanging-branches.html

I'm not sure this applies, as I am not in the UK and this is not a tree.

In any case, I was wondering more about the etiquette surrounding the issue.  If this were something like an apple or a pear tree, I wouldn't consider overhanging fruit to belong to me.  It would only be mine, in my opinion if it fell from the tree into my yard.  I'd definitely go over and ask to share the fruit from the branches that hung in my yard.

Should one, as a matter of politeness ask their neighbours permission to keep fruit that grows through the fence and onto their property?  Should I offer them some of my jams or preserves?  Take over a pie or some muffins?

Also, any ideas on what else I can do with blackberries that doesn't involve an abundance of sugar?

CluelessBride

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2013, 10:47:24 PM »

Also, any ideas on what else I can do with blackberries that doesn't involve an abundance of sugar?

If you have freezer space, you can freeze them for later use.  They hold up pretty well through freezing/thawing, especially if you used them for cooking. But really they are pretty good just thawed and served.  Plus its super easy.  Wash and dry the berries, spread them out in a single layer on a cooking sheet and pop them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, bag them in ziplock bags, remove as much air as possible and store until use.


We used to grow blackberries growing up and had a plant grow into the neighbors yard (unfenced border - plants will be plants after all). My parents went to them and asked whether they would like us to do.
1.) Pull it up. 
2.) Leave it and they could harvest any berries they wanted, my dad even offered to maintain it for them along with the other bushes if they'd like.
3.) Other.

The neighbors chose option 2 and everyone was happy -plenty of delicious berries for everyone. And my dad took care of all of the maintenance, pruning, watering and such.  Technically it was their yard, their property. But in my parents case they just wanted to make sure that the neighbors didn't feel encroached upon and that we offered to remove the plant from their yard if they didn't want it. I suspect your neighbor was just trying to keep your relationship neighborly. 

GrammarNerd

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2013, 11:13:16 PM »
I think you're fine.

But....I realized that now *I* want neighbors who plant insanely bearing fruity plants close to my fence!  From your description of the amount of the fruit....I mean....DANG!  Berry heaven!

Bijou

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Re: Berries on the fence
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2013, 11:43:43 PM »
We are blessed with wild blackberries that are on the fence line.  The yard next door was solid berry bushes when I was  kid.  They managed to get them under control, but the ones on the border between the yards just persist.  They also overgrew the alley fence.  Everyone walking by in the alley seems to enjoy the ones on that side.  We enjoy the ones on our side.  The neighbors probably enjoy the ones on their side. 
I would think that if your neighbors minded they would have said something.  I don't think you are doing anything rude. 
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