Garden Detective

Jessica Damiano's award-winning garden blog gets to the root of things.

Brutal allergy season ahead?

Allergy sufferers will have fewer pollen concerns by

Allergy sufferers will have fewer pollen concerns by choosing plants for their garden that produce little or no airborne pollen. (April 23, 2006) (Credit: AP)

About a week ago, I wrote about how all the snow we've had this winter will affect your garden come spring. It now appears it may have an effect on your health, as well.

Counter to what logic might dictate (or at least my logic), it seems we're all in for a long and potentially brutal allergy season. No, the season will not be delayed; it's actually two weeks ahead of schedule.

We already knew that as the snow mountains melted, they would soak the soil and water trees and plants. Coupled with the warm temperatures we had last week,  the one-two punch spurred trees to produce pollen -- and lots of it.

If you tend to suffer from seasonal hay fever, you likely know this already. But if you never have and suspect you have a cold now, it could be you've developed a new allergy due to the abundance of pollen.

Hay fever, technically called allergic rhinitis, "causes cold-like signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure," according to mayoclinic.com. "But unlike a cold, hay fever isn't caused by a virus. Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen."

There's good news for allergy-plagued gardeners, however: not all trees and plants produce the same amounts of pollen. You can still enjoy a beautiful garden by avoiding some plants and planting others.

Apple, cherry, pear, plum, dogwood, crepe myrtle and female red maple trees are good choices for allergy sufferers, as the pollen they produce is too heavy to fly around, similar to how dog dander is heavier than cat dander and, therefore, typically less irritating to those who are sensitive to both.

Allergy sufferers also are likely to tolerate begonia, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil, hosta, iris, lily, pansy, petunia, snapdragon and tulip.

If you're feeling stuffy or scratchy, wear a painter's face mask when undertaking the gardening chores in my March calendar this month. Or delegate the work to a lucky family member who isn't suffering.

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