If a crushing wall of blackberries from a neighbour’s property is climbing through your fence and threatening to turn your home into a modern-day Sleeping Beauty’s palace, you are on your own.
While blackberries are a highly invasive species that has taken over many acres of land in Langley Township, there is no imperative for local government to attempt to control the thorny, creeping blackberry bushes.
This is what Justine Head discovered after complaining about the blackberries which have spread from the adjoining municipal Vanetta Park in Aldergrove. The pressure of the heavy bushes is pushing over her cedar fence and the blackberries are pushing through, under and over her fence.
Head has tried to cut them back but they keep coming back, with a vengeance.
She has requested that the Township permanently remove the blackberry bushes which grow along the banks of Bertrand Creek in Vanetta Park, but the Township has denied her request. The Township has told Head that because it’s on a stream side there are setbacks which must be adhered to, but that Head could cut the blackberries back one metre on the park side of the property line.
Head said this is beyond her capabilities and wouldn’t do much good as the blackberries will simply and quickly regenerate back onto her property if they aren’t removed altogether.
Township Parks spokesperson Al Neufeld told The Star that while blackberries are a problem in many areas the Township simply doesn’t have the resources to battle them all.
The Township has identified six invasive species which are targeted — Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, English ivy, purple loostrife, Himalayan balsam and tansy ragwort — and there is funding set aside for controlling these species.
“Blackberries are naturally occurring, spread by birds and they often choke out the native vegetation,” said Neufeld.
“One of the best strategies is to plant trees which provide more shade than blackberries like.”
The Township and the nonprofit Langley Environmental Partners Society often work together on riparian and tree-planting projects, with funding from a variety of government and private sources.
The Vanetta Park blackberries really took over after a cottonwood tree in the park fell over a couple of years ago, says Head. The fallen tree also damaged Head’s fence and a corner of her home’s roof, but insurance took care of this expense.
The Township cut down the rest of this tree but now there is a tall cluster of fast-growing cottonwood suckers shooting up around the cut stump.
Head worries that the remaining cottonwoods along the creek will also fall, as this species of tree is notoriously weak and short-lived. She would like to see the Township cut down all the cottonwoods and replace them with a hardier species of tree.