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Allergy Free Gardening

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If you are suffering from allergies, tree and plant pollen may be the reason.


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Poway Valley Garden Club Newsletter (excerpt) March 2002 Issue

I am a member of the Poway Valley Garden Club and had the honor to present a Low Allergy Gardening exhibit at our 24th Standard Flower Show on April 21 in Poway last year. Our show was in conjunction with Earth Day. My exhibit was huge, largely due to six (6)Miramar Marines who provided the brains and brawn to build it and Walter Andersen’s Nursery for generously loaning me the plants. Our club is small and this wonderful exhibit would not have been possible without them. I am so honored that our club was lucky enough to have had their help, particularly now that their missions are so dangerous and they are unable to be involved in community projects. I think of them often and how my exhibit would have been reduced to tabletop information without their help and without the book Allergy-Free Gardening by Thomas Ogren.

I had been planning to do this exhibit for over a year (even as I dismantled my prior year’s exhibit). But obtaining enough information to pull it together took a great deal of research. Then, several months before our show, an article appeared in Golden Gardens about Tom Ogren, whose book, Allergy-Free Gardening had just been published in June. I rushed to buy it and was amazed and inspired. He had unlocked the mystery of allergy and asthma and I was truly ashamed that I hadn’t done so, having been a gardener for many years and having read extensively on the subject.

It just so happened that I had recently returned to college to obtain a degree in biochemistry. Ogren’s observations that abundant male trees in the landscape could be the cause of the rise in allergy and asthma seemed too simple to have been overlooked for so long by the educated scientists that our universities produce. So I tested several of his claims and, to my shame and his credit, discovered them all to be true!

There is no doubt that Tom Ogren is the expert on Allergenic Plants and we are so lucky that he is our neighbor and a friend of Garden Clubs (he lives in San Luis Obispo). He was kind enough to lecture and sign books at our Flower Show and again at our judge’s luncheon, which our club also attended. He was exceptional, truly a speaker that would enhance any flower show, garden club program and/or educational class on the environment or landscape planning. In short, any lecture or program regarding trees or plants.

It would be wonderful if our city and private landscapers would take note and help fight the unseen pollen battle that some of us must endure. They have very little training in allergenic plants and habitually plant the most allergenic ones (dioecious male plants and monoecious plants). Much to my dismay, I was unable to find female plants for my exhibit in my local nurseries and all of the landscapes in San Diego are overburdened my male dioecious plants. I must echo the cry to Plant Female whenever possible. It is the right thing to do.

Tom Ogren’s book is worth every cent that it costs (buy the paperback) and if you have the opportunity to attend one his lectures, or to book him for one, don’t miss it!

Anyone desiring information about my exhibit, or ideas on how to put one together themselves, may contact me at allergyinfoquest@aol.com.

Rachele Melious
Poway Valley Garden Club member and newsletter editor

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