Sneeze-free garden

Pop-up, low-allergen garden on London's Southbank. This is what they told us about it:


Sneeze free garden

Plans for a stunning pop-up, low-allergen garden on London's Southbank have been revealed today. Opening its gates to the public from Thursday 19 June until Sunday 22 June, the garden has been designed using only low-allergen plants. By ensuring that every plant used adheres to strict low-allergen criteria, this vibrant green space offers a haven for everyone this summer.

An abundance of more than 2,000 plants have been used to create this innovative, bespoke garden design. The bright display of plants will radiate colour using a diverse range of vivid Begonias, Fuchsias, Petunias, Geraniums, Hibiscus, Clematis and Bay trees to name a few of the many species.

Named The Sneeze Free Garden, allergy relief brand Piriton (very widely used anti-histamine) has worked with horticulturalist and founder of OPALS, Tom Ogren (see many of this articles in our gardening section) to develop the installation. OPALS is the world's first plant-allergy scale and has been used as one of the criteria to determine the low-allergen plant selection for the garden – only plants rated one to five have been used as these are considered to be low-risk of triggering an allergic reaction.

Another of the criteria is that the plants in the garden are female or insect-pollinated to reduce the risk of pollen becoming airborne, as it is the vast numbers of small, light pollen grains that float easily through the air which can be easily inhaled and trigger hayfever symptoms.

Beverley Adams-Groom, chief palyonlogist from the University of Worcester, explains: "Insect-pollinated plants have heavy pollen grains which rely on insects to transport them. When not attached to the plant or the insect, the pollen falls to the ground. However, the pollen in wind-pollinated plants is buoyant, enabling it to stay in the air for longer, and is produced in higher concentrations."

Leading gardening journalist and former editor of BBC Gardener's World Magazine – Adam Pasco – adds: "The thought of spending time in the garden during the height of the summer can send shivers down the spine of allergy sufferers. Allergic responses can be triggered by a variety of things; while some are affected by touching certain plants, others react to the pollen they produce. When it comes to planning your own garden, and the plants you choose, it's just as important to know what to put in as to leave out."

Adam's top five tips to create a low-allergen garden at home include:

1. Highly perfumed flowers can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction, so avoid growing these if you're sensitive to strong scent. Choose non-fragrant flowers instead.

2. Plant varieties with double flowers release very little pollen into the air, so choose doubles rather than single flowers with open blooms.

3. When you think of colour consider foliage, features and fancy fabrics rather than flowers. Paint fences, use brightly coloured pots, and add accessories that give your summer garden a boost.

4. Fancy growing your own? Choose leafy crops and salads, like rocket and beetroot, and self-fertile varieties of runner beans and courgettes. Avoid wind-pollinated crops like sweetcorn.

5. Consider replacing your lawn with an alternative surface like artificial turf, paving, decking or gravel. If you do want a lawn then make sure it's regularly mown to prevent grasses flowering.

A spokesperson from Piriton adds: "Allergies can get in the way of people living their life to the full – a classic example is when the weather warms up and, rather than being able to enjoy the delights of our Great British gardens, allergy sufferers are forced to seek sanctuary indoors. We're constantly looking for ways to raise awareness of allergies and provide people with the relief they need – Piriton already helps to relieve symptoms of allergies including hayfever and is available in both tablet and syrup format, so is easy to transport on those family-bonding days out. With the Sneeze Free Garden we hope to offer everyone the chance of a low-allergen garden experience this summer."

Visitors to the Sneeze Free Garden will be able to enjoy the tranquility of this oasis in the heart of the capital as well as learn more about the plants used, their low-allergen qualities and more about allergies in general.

The Sneeze Free Garden will be sited at Observation Point, Queen's Walk, London's Southbank (opposite TV Centre, beside the National Theatre) and will be open to the public from 10am-5pm from Thursday 19 June until Sunday 22 June 2014.

You can find all of Tom Ogren's books on allergen-free gardening here on Amazon in the UK and here on Amazon in the US.

Articles on allergen-free gardening


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