You might want to think twice before taking cuttings from people's yards

Do you ask permission before taking a cutting from someone else's yard?

Fellow gardeners know how tempting it can be to take a cutting from something you fancy when you’re out and about. The plant you are lusting over may be unique or perhaps you recognise that it’s strong and hardy–the perfect specimen. So, if you find the perfect plant, what do you do? If the owner of the home is not there is it okay to take a cutting without asking permission or is it wrong in every way?

One Bundaberg resident reckons it’s extremely rude and even wrote into the NewsMail to air her concerns. Going by the name E Southwick the resident expressed her annoyance after seeing some people in her neighbourhood taking cuttings from trees, allegedly without asking.

“To the Christmas day thief in the white utility who drove along the footpath on Mt Perry Rd at 2.05pm and tore branches from the frangipani trees,” she said, adding: “Check out the fines for this offence.”

She told NewsMail taking cuttings was fine if people asked, but simply taking without permission was not on, “It’s manners to ask,” she said, “Thumbs up to those who do.”

It seems that she’s not the only one who holds this opinion about cuttings. A poll from the NewsMail revealed that zero participants in the poll thought it was okay to take cuttings from people’s yards without asking the owner’s permission first. Of those remaining, 28 per cent of people thought it was okay to take a cutting from a public place such as a park or playground area–while 72 per cent thought it was wrong to take a cutting from anywhere without asking.

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When the same question was put to members of the Startsat60 Gardeners Club there were a few mixed opinions on the issue.

Anne Shields humorously said that taking cuttings without permission is okay if they are: “hanging over the footpath and going to ladder your stockings.”

Dianna Brown also thought that the fence barrier determined whether you could take a cutting without permission: ” Depends if they are hanging over my fences yes. Most of mine come from friends. I will give cuttings to anyone just ask.”

Roo Jones said she thought it was wrong but admitted that she had done it once or twice: “No, but I have been known to do it if I can see that by doing so I wouldn’t be hurting the plant in any way.”

Sue Murley remembers a nun in her garden club always sneaking a few cuttings: “On one of our gardening trips she had a plastic bag in her pocket and when something took her fancy, she would slip a piece into it. When we questioned her about it, she said they were “gifts from God”. A lovely lady who gave us a lot of knowledge and laughs. Gone now, but not forgotten.”

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According to the Queensland Police, the legality of taking cuttings from other people’s yards is a grey area and reported incidents would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. A Queensland Police spokesperson told Startsat60 that there were three factors that could play a role in convicting someone for taking a cutting–these include trespass, stealing and public nuisance. 

According to State Government legislation, the definition of stealing is to take something that belongs to another person without consent and having no intention of returning it–in many cases taking cutting without consent fits into this category. The maximum penalty for stealing is five years imprisonment.

Have you ever taken a cutting from someone else’s yard? Did you ask their permission first? How would you feel if someone took a cutting from your garden without asking?

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