Book Review: The Allergy-Fighting Garden

Author: by Thomas Leo Ogren
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Book Publication: 2015

Spring and summer are here at last – warm weather, blue skies, and the beauty of blooming trees and flowers. But for those suffering from allergies, the change of seasons can be a miserable affair filled with pollen-inducing itchy eyes, a stuffed nose, and breathing problems. There’s not much one can do to ease the discomfort except stay indoors and take an antihistamine – or is there?

Horticulturalist and allergy researcher, Thomas Leo Ogren, in his book The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping, offers up a hands-on solution to solving the spring and summer allergy problem. While this only works if you own your property and are able to change the landscape, Ogren’s plan to make the exterior environment of a home a pollen-free area is an attractive and doable option.

Convincingly, Ogren gives an interesting gender-based argument on the issue of pollen and allergies; only male plants, which he says are over-planted in gardens and civic landscapes, produce huge amounts of pollen. By replacing these miscreant male plants with pollen-trapping female ones, people with allergies can reduce or eliminate their symptoms.

Aside from Ogren’s views on the effect of plant gender on the environment, the bulk of the book contains a handy resource of more than 3,000 plant listings, each with an allergy ranking scale of 1 to 10, rated according to a system called OPALS, created by the author. Included are also the “worst offenders” to avoid, which enables gardeners to choose more ‘hypoallergenic’ plants.

For home gardeners looking to help allergy sufferers and the environment, The Allergy-Fighting Garden just may be a great way to get started on creating your own allergy-free zone. Available on



Marlene Eisner is a valued Vitality magazine contributor.

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