Michelle Berriedale-Johnson reviews the options
Garden designer Rob Frier, like many keen gardeners, suffers from asthma and hay fever - which he refuses to allow to dictate his gardening although he does take a few sensible precautions. As soon as the sun comes out, on go the sunglasses and out comes the levoceterizine. The combination of the two keep his allergies pretty much under control - although, as he says, he would not run through a field of grass.
So, rule number one for pollen-allergy sufferers, is to seek out female rather than male plants. However, you do not have to eschew the male entirely...
Because the wind is a very untargeted way of ensuring that your pollen reaches an appropriate female, male plants using wind have to release enormous quantities of it, saturating the air with pollen. Even though not all of that pollen is allergenic, much of it is and there is so much of it that it is impossible to avoid.
Amongst the main families of plants that use the wind to pollinate are grasses, both ornamental and lawn, and trees, such as birch, ash, hornbeam, maple, hazel, and willow.
To attract their ‘couriers’ plants use either very showy, colourful flowers or strong scents. The former are fine for allergic gardeners, the latter not so good as the strong scents can themselves cause a
reaction. However, the need to ensure that the pollen sticks to its courier means that it is heavy and sticky and, unless touched, will cause the allergy sufferer few problems.
Fortunately there are many other surfaces that can be used, liberally scattered with tubs and pots to soften the lines and give colour, although mould sufferers should avoid wood and bark - see below.
Some of the worst offenders are scented roses (unscented are fine), carnations and pinks, clematis, jasmine, honeysuckle, wisteria, privet, elder, tomato and lavender.
Mould and fungi
In photodermatitis the combination of contact with the plant and sunlight can produce redness, itching and blistering, which can last for weeks and may leave the skin discoloured. The herb rue (Ruta
graveolens) is particularly bad for this.
Some of the worst offenders are marigolds, geraniums, castor oil plant, euphorbia, hellebores, daisy, primulas, ivy, daphne, fremontia, privet, fig, rue, dandelion, couch grass.
Creating a low allergen garden by Lucy Huntington was first published in 1998 but remains an excellent and comprehensive guide to low-allergen gardening. Some copies are still available from Amazon.
Plants to avoid:
Plants to use:
First published in 2007