A Great Read for Allergy Season

I’ve never been much of a fan of LinkedIn. I’m particularly prejudiced against it because they insist that you use a photo of yourself rather than something else. And in ham-handedly enforcing this policy, they deleted my “avatar” at the time, which was my sweet beloved late schnauzer, Buffi. I deleted my profile as well for a time in protest.  A simple “Hey, we don’t allow this anymore; you need to change your photo” would have sufficed.

But recently someone wanted to connect and because I thought his research sounded interested, I did connect. As a result, he very kindly sent me a review copy of his book, The Allergy Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping. The book is written by Thomas Leo Ogren and published by Ten Speed Press.

Honestly I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading but I was blown away by the research and science Tom put into the book. In his introduction, he says that he began the project because his wife has asthma and allergies so he tried to find books on landscaping his yard to help her and he couldn’t. He had to write his own.

And despite the science–sometimes a dreaded word to us gardeners!–the book is quite accessible! Yes, there are technical terms and quite a bit about plant sex (which sounds way more interesting than it actually is but Tom makes it as interesting as it can be!). If science really upsets you, you can gloss over this.

One of the most valuable parts of the book (other than the tricks on how to landscape the yard to help reduce the allergens–and there are some great tricks here, even if you don’t want to plant another plant or dig another hole. They include simple things like keeping ferns out of hanging baskets because the spores can be allergens and can, from their position in those baskets,  cover things that people will come into contact with. Ferns in the ground are rarely a problem) is Part Two which contains a rating of literally hundreds, if not thousands of plants on a scale that Ogren himself devised.

The scale is based upon numerous factors about the pollen, the amount of time the plant is in bloom, whether the plant has a fragrance and whether there is sap that causes a rash. The scale goes from 1-10 and is called OPALS. It covers all types of plants from trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, house plants, vegetables and fruits. This is an amazing body of work!

Best of all–as Tom says in his introduction, in re-landscaping his yard in armed with this knowledge, his wife does indeed feel better!


7 thoughts on “A Great Read for Allergy Season

  1. The Chatsworth Lady March 28, 2015 / 9:49 am

    Really interesting! I’ve had allergies all my life but only recently has seasonal pollen started to bother me. Here at the Money Pit/Temporary Garden there are oaks and last year I was miserable! I’ll be curious to see if oaks are in the high-pollen group in that book.

    • Kris Cerone March 28, 2015 / 1:07 pm

      I looked in my copy of the Allergy Fighting Garden and yes, Oaks (Quercus) are high in pollen and high on the allergy scale a 9 on a scale of 1 – 10. The author’s explaination of the variety of Oaks and possibilities for the future for Oaks is worth reading.

      • gardendaze March 28, 2015 / 3:06 pm

        Thank you. I will go back to read that section but thank you for getting to it and sharing before I could.

        For wildlife gardeners, oaks are the holy grail because they feed the greatest number of species. They are also the most numerous tree–I think you pointed out that there are quite a variety. And they are long lived, for the most part.

        But for those of us with allergies, perhaps we’ll need to do some further reading.

        Thanks again for reading and commenting.


      • The Chatsworth Lady March 29, 2015 / 10:34 am

        Thanks for the lookup, Chris! Well, I can now add “oaks” to the ever-lengthening list of Reasons Why This House is Driving Me Mad, LOL

  2. gardendaze March 28, 2015 / 11:07 am

    Without going back to double check, I would probably tell you yes, just based on my own long standing tree allergies. Oaks & maples have very similar flowers –those tiny, itty bitty flowers that are almost invisible to the naked eye but are wind pollinated. Those sorts of trees generally prove to be trouble.

    Tom’s work is much more sophisticated than my analysis. He talks about cloned plants, and about why cloned plants often are trouble. It was such an interesting read!


  3. Peter Prakke March 28, 2015 / 11:20 am

    The “Allergy-Fighting Garden” from Thomas Ogren, is a “must have” book for gardeners, healthcare workers, school and park maintenance workers. BEFORE planting shrubs or trees, read this book first. Asthma sufferers say ‘thank you’ later.

    • gardendaze March 28, 2015 / 12:27 pm

      Beautifully put. Thank you for commenting.


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