The Allergy-Fighting Garden

The Allergy-Fighting Garden

The title of this book grabbed me right away. A book about gardening, you say? For people with allergies?

give it to me now

The author is a horticulturalist with an agricultural science background and invented the scale by which plants are rated for allergenicness. Seems legit.

I learned quite a few new things reading this book, one of which is that male plants produce more pollen than female plants. THANKS, MEN. Also, back in the 1940s, apparently some (male, I’m guessing) brains at the USDA decided to encourage people to grow male trees rather than a mix of female and male, because female trees produce seeds, seedpods, and fruit, and those are too messy to be convenient in carefully-groomed communities (we’re talking about types of trees where the sexes are separate – which NOT ALL TREES are). Male trees also produce more pollen than trees with both parts in the same flowers, so this preponderance of male trees made for extra beaucoup pollen everywhere. (They, along with cloning, also made for a horribly heterogeneous tree population, so when things like Dutch Elm disease came through, it was way more devastating than it might have been. GREAT.) (Also, birds and butterflies like to eat, you know, fruit, so having no female trees means having a lot fewer beneficial creatures around. SUPER.) Back to the dearth of female trees, which, did you know? actually COLLECT and remove pollen from the air, in addition to not producing it themselves. So not only are these too-numerous male trees dropping buckets of pollen all over the place, there aren’t enough female trees to – what’s new, right? – clean up their mess. Okay, even I’m getting a little tired of talking about this Tree Patriarchy. Let’s acknowledge that most of the time when we decide to mess with an ecosystem, we don’t consider the possible consequences and we end up screwing things up in ways we never imagined. Moving on.

You might say to yourself, but wait – don’t we need pollen so pollinators can do their jobs? Yes, we do. This book is about reducing the most allergenic pollens, not all pollens. We’ve seen what problems an all-or-nothing situation creates, haven’t we? The most allergenic pollens come from trees and shrubs, it seems, so a lot of perennial and annual plants are probably fine for many allergy sufferers. Which is great news! Because pollinators love those smaller plants and we love pollinators. This book goes into detail about how to identify the plants in your landscape as well as giving recommendations for how to choose what to add to your own yard and garden. It also gives suggestions for helping to de-allergen your home space, such as planting an allergy-blocking hedge on the windward side of your property (really the hedge will be collecting the pollen not blocking it). I am all about a property-border hedge, so this makes me even more antsy for us to be in our next home and planning our landscape!

Most of the book is a listing of details about various plants. It includes their allergy rating as well as information about the plant and for some, color photographs. The back of the book includes a glossary of horticultural terms, lists of recommended books and websites, a pollen calendar for common species, and the current USDA plant hardiness zone map.

This is a book I’m certainly going to be using for reference often. It’s got a ton of great information on a wide variety of plants and, especially since we will hopefully be the owners of a new garden/yard soon, we’ll have lots of planning and plant-identifying for which to use it. I love gardening books and I’ve read a lot of them, but none have taught me as much about plant sex as this book. And how many gardening books have you read that contain the phrase, “Feminists, we need you!”

Full disclosure: reviewed from a complimentary copy provided by Blogging for Books.


hangry rant: drug trip

So today I tried to buy some allergy medicine. This is medicine that I have taken every day for the last twenty-plus years.You can read more about it on pramiracetam side effects on the official website. It used to be that I could get a prescription for it, which my insurance would cover, and it was NBD. Then it became a so-called Over The Counter drug, except I still had to buy it at the pharmacy counter because it’s made with The Good Shit. And then some well-meaning idiots decided that they would only sell a couple of days’ worth at a time because otherwise meth mongers would buy it all up and we can’t have that. Oh, and the insurance companies decided that since it was OTC, they wouldn’t pay for it anymore, even if I did have a prescription. And then the pharmacy decided, even if I have a prescription, if I have insurance that doesn’t cover the drug, then I have to buy the drug without the rx, in tiny amounts that mean I have to return to the store every few days. Because people with allergies are obviously weak and need to suffer even more than they already do. Apparently.

So because I take this drug every day, I have to wait until the day I take the last dose I have and then go to the pharmacy and hope that they will sell me some more for tomorrow. Usually they do, though a lot of the time they will only give me five at a time (instead of the oh-so-generous 15 that is the most they will hand over), requiring even more trips back to the damn pharmacy. And sometimes, like today, they will not give me any. AT ALL. Even though I have used all the doses I already bought (just one per day! I’m pretty effing careful about this!) and this means I do not have any for tomorrow. Because this means that I have to go to the pharmacy again first thing tomorrow morning (if I don’t take the drug at the same time every day, I will feel the pain) and see if they will be able to sell me any then. And if they don’t, I have to suffer. Because if I don’t take this drug as prescribed, I turn into a snot monster with raging headaches that make me a crabby danger to myself and anyone around me. I might as well just scrap doing anything at all ever if I’m not taking it daily. Who wants to do something to make up for the time I’ll have to waste lying in bed feeling like ass?

I am generally in favor of common sense solutions to any given situation. In my professional life, I’ve often written simple policies based on an expectation of common sense for everyone, even when I had to fight colleagues who wanted to write specific, nit-picky rules with particular line items and consequences for every possible problem that could ever possibly happen. (For instance, I’ve worked in libraries with staff who were obsessed with banning cell phone use in the library. My thought: make a rule that people can’t be disruptive to others’ use of the library. This will include any loud cell phone talking, along with any of the other MILLION things that people could do that you don’t want. And most importantly, in addition to working in all situations, it won’t punish the people who are using their phones to, oh, say, search the fucking library website so they can find things.) This stupid pharmacy situation is a prime example of why making blanket rules like this don’t work and end up punishing the people who aren’t the problem. My snot and sinus pressure are not the problem, people.