Well-known gardener Diarmuid Gavin has created informative videos and a low-pollen plant guide to encourage people with hayfever back into the garden this summer.
Many hayfever sufferers tend to avoid outdoor activities at this time of year to escape symptoms such as a stuffy, runny, nose and red, itchy, eyes. A campaign by Summer Ease with Cetriz is offering practical steps and tips on low-pollen plant options to help hayfever sufferers enjoy gardening too.
Around 20 per cent of Irish people suffer from hayfever, also called seasonal rhinitis. It is an allergic response caused by seasonal allergens such as pollen. “Pollen allergy is the most common springtime allergy, which occurs during blooming of plants," said says Boots pharmacist Paula Reilly. "Although you can’t avoid pollen, you can take the appropriate steps to reduce your risk of allergy symptoms and outbreaks throughout the season while still enjoying activities like gardening."
Diarmuid Gavin’s top tips to creating a low-pollen garden
Things to consider when choosing plants, trees and shrubs are the size of the plant, how much pollen it produces, and where it is located in the garden.
Consider replacing your grass lawn with paving or gravel. Alternatively, plant ferns and a camomile lawn as a substitute for grass.
Remove the weeds and wildflowers. Thistles and nettles should be removed from your garden, along with other pollen-heavy weeds such as ragweed. Enlist someone else to do the weeding for you so you don’t set off your allergies.
Avoid male trees and shrubs such as Fraxinus excelsior (common ash ), Acer (maple ), and Ilex (holly ) as they produce large amounts of pollen, or any male trees or shrubs.
Try to avoid flowers that give off a strong scent, such as roses or anything in the daisy family, and ornamental grasses.
For beautiful, colourful, low-pollen, options in your garden, plant fuchsia, hardy geraniums, foxgloves, Aquilegia (columbine ), crocuses, and azaleas. Azaleas come in a wide range of colours including white, pink, red, purple, orange and yellows, as well as many multi-colour varieties.
Grow your own food by planting low-pollen lettuce (a natural antihistamine ), blueberry bushes, and apple trees in your garden.
Hedges can harbour dust, pollens, and mould spores, consider replacing these with a fence or wall. To brighten up your wall or fence, plant the Clematis Jackmanii – a beautiful free-flowering, deciduous climber, it blooms with showy flowers from early to late summer.
Six practical tips for gardening with hayfever from Boots pharmacist Paula Reilly
Monitor pollen forecasts, and garden in the evening or in the morning on cool, cloudy, days.
Do not touch your eyes or nose during gardening to avoid the transfer of any mould or pollens.
Rub a small amount of petroleum gel inside your lower nostrils to help prevent pollen from entering your nasal passages.
Wear a wide brimmed hat to prevent pollen landing on your hair. Cover up and wear gloves, a long sleeved top, sunglasses, and a mask if you are cutting the grass.
Bathe or shower and change your clothes after being outside.
Speak to your pharmacist about treatment options for managing your hayfever symptoms.
See the Cetriz Ireland Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CetrizIreland ) to watch a series of videos, featuring Diarmuid Gavin, showing viewers how to garden with hayfever, how to garden in an urban space, and how to grow their own food.