I was hired by Johnson and Johnson to do an allergy audit of the planted urban landscapes of the dozen largest cities in Canada, from coast to coast. I'm writing this now from the Westin Hotel in downtown, Toronto, up on the 30th floor.
In the past month I've been working my way east, driving my old Mazda pickup truck. The first city on the tour was Victoria, on Vancouver Island, and then, in this order, I worked over the trees and shrubs of Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, and for much of the past week, Toronto. Tomorrow morning I'm heading out for Montreal, and then Quebec City, and then all the way to Halifax in Nova Scotia. On the return trip in early May I'll stop over in Ottawa and get a good look at their landscapes.
Each city has been different, and each has presented its own set of challenges. It's only in the past week that I'm starting to see actual leaves on the deciduous trees. In every city so far a few things have been quite consistent: almost all the junipers and yews have been male, almost every single planted willow tree has been the male clone, 'Golden Willow,' and in every city I've found large numbers of male clones of red maple, red x silver maple hybrids as male trees, and also in most cities, huge numbers of grafted male ash trees.
In each city I visit elementary schools to look at their landscapes, I go to nurseries to see what they're selling, I visit residential neighborhoods and commercial areas as well.
The final report, which will be issued by Reactine (an allergy medicine here in Canada) will be called the PolleNation. It will be published sometime in mid-May. The final report will represent the first time ever, anywhere, that an entire country has ever been allergy audited based on what has been planted in their cities.
On this job I am working as an independent contractor, and am able to call the shots as I see them. Before I left California in early March I had already done three months of research into the urban forests of each city, so I'd have an idea of what I might find. In some cities, Edmonton, for example, the city people in charge of planting trees have been eager to get involved, to try and make their own cities more allergy friendly. In some other cities the official response has been polite but non-committal. All along the way I've gotten considerable press, quite a bit of good exposure on TV, and some on radio. Below are some of the print media from the trip so far...and I'll post some more as it comes.
Before too long, too, I'll post something here on this blog, about each city in particular. If you want to comment here, please do, and if for some reason you're unable to, then email our webmaster, Brian, and he'll be happy to help.
In the mean time, stay well, have some fun, and wish me luck on the rest of this long but certainly interesting journey!
Vancouver Sun: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2012/03/22/street-tree-programs-that-use-male-cultivars-boost-urban-pollen-counts/
24 Hours, Vancouver: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/News/local/2012/03/19/19523846.html
Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Male+domination+creates+sick+urban+society+says+horticulturalist/6355226/story.html
Metro News, Edmonton: http://www.canadian-health.ca/5_2/27_e.html
The Star Phoenix, Saskatoon: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/health/Saskatoon+urban+forest+focus+pollen+audit/6363661/story.html
Press Release from Reactine: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/makers-reactiner-introduce-pollenation-the-first-ever-canadian-urban-allergy-audit-with-1643085.htm
Canadian Gardening Magazine: http://www.canadiangardening.com/how-to/the-healthy-gardener/combatting-allergies-in-the-garden/a/1461
Canadian Health, from the Canadian Medical Association: http://www.canadian-health.ca/5_2/27_e.html
I Can Garden, Canada’s largest gardening website: http://www.icangarden.com/document.cfm?task=viewdetail&itemid=9614
HGTV Canada: http://www.hgtv.ca/gardening/articledetails.aspx?ContentId=2478&cat=2&by=
Post Media News, Canada.com: http://www.canada.com/Domination+male+trees+creates+sick+urban+society+says+horticulturalist/6361347/story.html
Midland Free Press, Ontario, Canada: http://www.midlandfreepress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3520769
Canadian Gardening Magazine: http://www.canadiangardening.com/plants/trees-and-shrubs/grow-it-october-glory-red-maple/a/30209
Ottawa Citizen: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Health/6575229/story.html