This time of year is tough for allergy sufferers who are also gardeners. As lovely as the weather is, it can be difficult to get outdoors to garden if you are plagued by seasonal allergies.
Fortunately there are things you can do to minimize the symptoms (other than relying on your medication of choice or allergy shots).
The first is simple avoidance, of course. That means staying out of that garden when pollen counts are highest. And unfortunately, pollen counts are highest at some of the most beautiful times of the day: first thing in the morning and at dusk.
The other thing to make sure to do is to keep the windows closed, especially on days with those lovely late spring breezes. Otherwise you are likely to find every surface of your home coated with the very pollen you are trying most to avoid. You can open your windows later this summer–if weather permits–when airborne pollen subsides.
When you do go outside to garden, make sure you shower after returning. This will wash the airborne pollen off you and out of your hair.
Notice the tire treads and the footprints on the driveway? They’re made in pollen! This is pollen from Eastern White pine (pinus strobus) which is entirely wind pollinated. It’s a heavy yellow pollen and the grains are far too large to be the cause of allergies–although the do coat everything and the can get in your nose and make you sneeze just from the irritation!
Here is a “puddle” of it after I watered some pots nearby. Luckily this only goes on for about a week or so.
But one thing to remember: All our pollinators that are visiting our flowers are not the cause of the your sneezing and itchy eyes or scratchy throat. The pollen that is carried by those pollinators is too heavy to be airborne–that’s why it needs insects.
Insect pollination is entirely different from airborne pollination. That’s why you can safely grow colorful flowers. They lure the insect pollinators with pollen that is too “heavy” to become airborne and therefore it is rarely a problem for allergy sufferers.
After all, the major sources of allergens are trees, grasses, ragweed and mold. No one ever heard of being allergic to roses, hydrangeas, black-eyed susans or peonies! (Unless of course you have an allergy to fragrance!)