Hayfever season is upon us but this doesn't necessarily mean you need to hide away snivelling in the potting shed! Unbelievably, 25% of people struggle with puffy eyes, runny noses and the infamous Chelsea cough, with this figure increasing annually. But fear not; low allergen and healing garden designer, Olivia Kirk, shares her insights on which plants are fantastic for evolving your garden into a low irritation zone.
Olivia started offering low allergen garden design in 2010 after the National Pollen Research Unit based in Worcester asked her to design a garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show. In researching the planting for this Olivia was surprised how little information there was on people’s respiratory responses to plants and since then has been on a mission to create low-allergen gardens.
She recently launched The Low Allergy Planting Planner which is a small, robust, waterproof file that is easily slipped into a bag for a quick trip to the garden centre, for when you want to buy some plants that won’t start you sneezing and wheezing. The file is divided into colour-coded sections covering everything from planting for structure to herbaceous planting and ground cover options.
Olivia has a portfolio of public and private gardens all around the UK as well as a number of high-profile show gardens to her name. She was awarded an RHS Chelsea Gold medal in 2011 for her ‘Power of Nature’ Garden and her most recent garden at Chelsea for The WellChild Charity was re-located to the Brook on Broadwaters School in Tottenham. She is a regular tutor for The London College of Garden Design and has recently lectured for Kew and the SGD as well as contributed to books and articles by the RHS on the subject of low allergen gardening in the public domain.