The Sneezy Season is approaching. Mother Nature gave us a warning several weeks ago during the few days of warm weather.
That was the day I pulled one of my favorite books off the shelf. The book is "The Allergy-Fighting Garden" by Thomas Leo Ogren.
Ogren is a horticulturist and allergy researcher, a former landscape gardening instructor and a nursery owner. Ogren developed an allergy rating scale for over 3,000 plants. The rating scale is OPALS, an acronym for Ogren Plant Allergy Scale. The ratings are numbered 1-10, with 1 being the least allergenic. More than 130 possible factors are used to develop the ranking system, both positive and negative.
I spent the winter of 2021 going through the OSU publication of "Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon" and marking each plant listed with the OPALS rating. There can be a significant difference between male and female plant. An example is the Rocky Mountain Maple, Acer glabrum. The rating on the male is 8, a female is 1.
Most of the Oaks have a rating of 9. Female junipers-the ones that produce the berries are rated as low. Male junipers are rated high. Our Oregon Grape Holly, Mahonia has a rating of 2. Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicfolia has a rating between 1-2. Spirea species are higher at a rating of 5. Barberry, Berberis species are rated as a 3. Lilacs range between 5-6. Serviceberry or Juneberry, Amelanchier species are rated as 3. Redtwig Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera is rated as 5.
Ground covers were a bit of a surprise to me. Curlicue Sage with its unique foliage varies between a 7-9. Partridge Feather is rated at 5. Dianthus species fall between 1-3. Thyme species are rated as a 3. In addition to being a magnet for pollinators, Agastache species also have a low rating of 3. Black-eyed Susan and Blanket Flower are rated as a 5 and a 6. For me that means be sure and carry a tissue.
I have lived with allergies all my life. Goldenrod was the worst growing up. I consider it fortunate that it is just the discomfort of sneezing and all that comes with that. Many allergy-prone friends suffer from migraine headaches and the lack of energy.
Perhaps we should be paying more attention to the landscaping
decisions especially of elementary schools.