A Dozen Tips for Producing Low Allergy GardensWritten by Thomas Ogren
A Dozen Tips for Producing Low-Allergy Gardens
Ó Thomas Leo Ogren
What we plant often has a direct effect on our own health and health of those near us. A pollen-producing male tree in our own yard will easily expose us to ten times more pollen than would a similar tree growing just down block. This can be compared to second-hand smoke. It is possible to inhale some smoke from a person smoking a block or two away from you, but it is hardly same as someone smoking right next to you. It is same with plants. If your own yard is full of allergenic plants, then you will be exposed most. Elementary school landscapes are frequently highly allergenic because all too often they have been landscaped with trees and shrubs that will not produce any seeds, seedpods or fruit—which children might want to toss at each other. What is over-looked is that these tidy choices are usually male cultivars (clones) and although they are “litter-free,” they are prodigious producers of allergenic pollen. I am now involved with a pollen-free landscape planting at a new elementary school in Tulare County, California. This work is being sponsored by their local asthma coalition and it is very encouraging to see preventative measures like this being taken. Children suffer greatly from allergies and asthma, and asthma is now most common chronic childhood disease in US. Another fine example of low-pollen landscaping surrounds new American Lung Association Regional Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. With “green” construction principles a new ‘Breathe Easy’ allergy-free office was constructed. The allergy-friendly landscape plant materials are predominantly female, and compliment clean air building. Other Breathe EasyÔ offices are also now using pollen free landscapes, as are numerous Heath Houses. Twelve tips: Remember, greater exposure to pollen, greater incidence of pollen-triggered allergy and asthma.
1.Don’t plant any male trees or shrubs. These are often sold as "seedless" or "fruitless" varieties but they’re males and they all produce large amounts of allergenic pollen. 2.Do plant female trees and shrubs. Even though these may be messier than males, they produce no pollen, and they actually trap and remove pollen from air. There is also some very good all-female sod to use for pollen-free lawns. As an added bonus, these female lawns stay low and require less frequent mowing. 3.Plant disease-resistant varieties: mildew, rust, black spot and other plant diseases all reproduce by spores and these spores cause allergies. Disease resistant plants won’t get infected as much and air around them will be healthier. 4.Use only trees and shrubs well adapted for your own climate zone. Plants grown in wrong zone will often fail to thrive. Because they are not healthy, they will be magnets for insects. Insect residue, "honeydew," is a prime host for molds and molds produce allergenic mold spores. Often native plants will be healthiest choices. 5.Be careful with use of all insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Accidental exposure to all of these chemical pesticides has been shown to cause breakdowns in immune system. Sometimes one single heavy exposure to a pesticide will result in sudden hypersensitivity to pollen, spores, and to other allergens. This is as true for pets as it is for their owners. Go organic as much as possible. Make and use compost!
A house is not a Home without a GnomeWritten by Hugh Harris-Evans
When confronted by a garden gnome common reaction is to hold up your hands in horror and utter an expression of disgust while wondering how anyone can bear to allow such a creature to remain in their backyard. On other hand we are told on good authority that gnome population of Southern Germany is close on four million and, when you start looking, there are quite a number visible in US.
Perhaps we should not be surprised by Germans since gnomes were first created in their country in early 1800's. The earliest recorded sighting in England was in 1840 at Lamport Hall, seat of Sir Charles Isham. It was not until 1872 that gnomes for garden began to be manufactured in large numbers. According to German folklore gnomes were regarded as good luck charms. They were supposed to help around house and garden and in rural areas often lived in rafters of barns where they would keep a watchful eye on owner's animals as well as crops and garden produce.
Over years German gnome makers honed their skills and became master craftsmen. At its peak Griebel gnome factory in East Germany produced some 300 different gnome characters. Following collapse of communism in 1989 entrepreneurs in Czech Republic decided to enter market and to produce cheap imitations of traditional characters. Initially they were prevented from entering Germany by a law which allowed customs to confiscate those gnomes infringing companies' copyright. However, now it is a free for all on German border and Reinhard Griebel, great grandson of founder of firm, has just one workshop and gnome museum.
Whilst original gnomes were depicted as gardeners engaged in traditional rural tasks, range was increased to include anyone from fishermen to musicians, sportsmen and farmers. It was not long before living individuals were being modelled in clay or stoneware. Among those currently available are gladiator Russell Crowe, TV gardeners Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock and even a Tony Blair wall plaque.
For gnome lovers no trip to Europe would be complete without a visit to Gnome Reserve set in wilds of northern Devon in England. There you will find over one thousand gnomes and pixies in four acre reserve. Gnome hats are loaned free of charge together with fishing rods, so you don't embarrass gnomes!