Bookshelf:

Allergy Free Gardening
“The revolutionary guide to healthy landscaping.”
Reviewed by Dr. Daniel E. Krieger, Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo

Fourteen years ago, Tom Ogren, the author of Allergy-Free Gardening, from Ten Speed Press, decided to create an allergy-free garden at his own house. His wife had severe asthma and hay fever and he was, as he writes, “a horticulturist after all.”

He soon found there was little written about the subject. Botany, horticulture, and landscape design professors he consulted knew almost nothing about it. Nurserymen also proved to be of little assistance. The only things he could find to read were books about pollen itself.

In order to understand these heavy scientific treatises Ogren had to first learn an entirely new vocabulary. For years he read everything he could find on pollen and plant flowering systems. He started testing himself and others with thousands of different pollens. He began to measure the distance pollen moved from its source plant. Eventually his huge stacks of data and clipped articles became a book, aptly named Allergy-Free Gardening.

Set up in encyclopedia form, thousands of common and not so common garden and landscape plants are alphabetically listed, discussed, and individually allergy-ranked on a scale of 1-10. With this scale, OPALSä, 1 is the best, the least allergenic; 10 represents those plants with the highest allergy causing potential.

Allergy-Free Gardening has zone maps for both the United States and Europe and all plants are ranked for winter hardiness. Plants are listed by scientific name, but are completely cross-referenced by common name, making any listing easy to find.

Years into his study Ogren discovered that within the species often described by allergists as “the worst,” was a goldmine of allergy-free plants. Many of these species are separate-sexed, and one night he suddenly realized “that the female plants would shed no pollen at all,” making them in effect, 100% pollen-free.

Included in Allergy-Free Gardening are exact cultivar names of these long-neglected pollen-free female trees, shrubs, vines, annuals, perennials, and yes, even grasses. The book is also full of helpful tips of cultural things any gardener can do to limit pollen and spores in the garden.

A major discovery of his research was that modern landscapes, unlike landscapes of old, are now loaded with heavy pollen-producing, “litter-free” male clones. These “clean” urban trees are literally killing us.

Illustrated with hundreds of fine line drawings and 64 pages of color photographs, this valuable book seems a bargain at $19.95.

The allergist who wrote the Foreword to Allergy-Free Gardening, Dr. David Stadtner, wrote, “This revolutionary book should be on the shelf of every serious gardener, not to mention every horticulture teacher, nurseryman, landscaper, urban planner, and allergist.”

I couldn’t agree more.

dkrieger@calpoly.edu


Author : Tom Ogren
ISBN : 1580082009
Publisher : Ten Speed Press
Sugg. Retail Price : $30.99
Available in Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288

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