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Allergy-Free Gardening: The Revolutionary Guide to Healthy Landscaping Paperback – June 1, 2000

47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1580081665 ISBN-10: 1580081665 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This book presents a new idea and does so very well indeed. Ogren, a former landscape gardening instructor, proposes that in our private and public landscaping we need to reduce the use of plants that cause allergies. Until the publication of this book, the information needed to make allergy-free choices had not been compiled in one easily accessible source; nor had a scale been devised for rating plants that cause allergies. Here, Ogren accomplishes both these aims. His introductory material presents many plants and allergies new to this reviewer, and he shows how to apply his ideas. The main part of the book consists of plants listed in alphabetical order by their scientific names, with numerous cross references to their common names. Brief annotations provide descriptions and notes regarding allergies. The most important feature, however, is the rating of plants on a scale from one to ten (with ten causing the worst allergic reactions). As David Stadtner, a practicing allergist, writes in his foreword, "the book should be in the library of every nursery and municipal park department." It should be in public and academic libraries as well.
-Carol Cubberley, Univ. of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“ALLERGY-FREE GARDENING will quickly prove its worth on the shelves of allergy sufferers.” —Indianapolis Star “Tom Ogren likes to talk about sex, sex, and more sex . . . with the allergy season in full bloom, this fascinating and useful book is a must-read for garden-loving allergy and asthma sufferers.”—San Jose Mercury News “This first-of-its-kind reference offers the avid gardener, landscape designer, and urban planner a chance to create a safe haven that offers allergy relief to the asthmatic, hay fever, and sinus community.” —Booklist“Will quickly prove its worth on the shelves of allergy sufferers.” —Indianapolis Star“This year’s break-through book.” —Harrisburg Patriot-News“This fascinating book will be a blessing.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer“Look for Thomas Leo Ogren's innovative book.” —Orange County Register E: The Environmental Magazine tells us that a copy of the book “should be as close at hand as your Benadryl.”

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580081665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580081665
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bio: Tom Ogren, San Luis Obispo, California

Thomas Leo Ogren has an MS in Agriculture/Horticulture from Cal Poly University. All his graduate work was on plant flowering systems and allergies. He taught horticulture and landscape gardening for 20 years and had his own radio show, "Tom Ogren's Wild World of Plants," on Public Radio in Minnesota. He has owned two nurseries and also dairy farmed for 8 years.

Tom's writing has been published in magazines such as Landscape Architecture, Women's Day, Earth Island Journal, Alternative Medicine, New Scientist, American Rose, California Landscaping, Pacific Horticulture, Pacific Coast Nurseryman, Wild Ones Journal, Smart Money, The Utne Reader, Der Spiegel, Second Wind, Garden Design, and Garden Gate. His research and writing has been called bold, innovative, important, and revolutionary.

Allergy-Free Gardening was his 3rd published book, and Safe Sex in the Garden his 4th. Both of these books have been reviewed worldwide in hundreds of publications, from the London Times in England to the Jerusalem Post, in Israel.

The Chelsea Garden show in England did an award-winning exhibit based on his research. Tom has twice been a guest on the Bay Area TV show, Henry's Garden, and has appeared numerous times on HGTV's "Smart Solutions." His work has been the focus of TV documentaries made by Toronto's City TV, and by The Discovery Channel. His work was featured on the CBS Evening News and he was also interviewed on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and on NPR's All Things Considered.

The Garden Writers of America nominated Allergy-Free Gardening as "The Most Important New Garden Book of the Year."

Ten Speed Press published Tom's next book, Safe Sex in the Garden, in March of 2003. In spring of 2004 Time Warner Books published his book on Lawns.

Tom has been researching landscape plants and allergies for over twenty years. The Canadian and American Lung Associations, New Zealand Arborist Association, local asthma coalitions, and the USDA Urban Foresters now use his research on allergies. Tom can be reached through his own website at

Am pleased to add something new to this little bio! Ten Speed Press and Random House Publishers will be publishing my newest book, The Allergy Fighting Garden, on 2/17/15. This is the result of many years of further research into allergies and landscape plants. I've been busy since I last posted on here, a decade ago. I've done allergy-plant research and given talks all over New Zealand, the UK, on the Isle of Guernsey, in Israel, and from coast to coast across Canada. I even managed to get asked to write an op ed piece for the New York Times....please see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/opinion/06ogren.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar

I recently contributed a chapter on allergy/asthma prevention through smarter landscaping, for a new public health textbook on nature and human health, to be published in 2015 by Oxford University Press.
I've also been working with the California Department of Public Health, helping to draft a new 7 Year Plan to combat asthma. My contributions all deal with urban forestry and allergy prevention.
I've also become part of a new nonprofit group that is advocating for the rights of people with allergies. Do check them out: www.safegardening.org

I'd also invite you to drop in on my own website, one I've had now (with no advertisements or pop ups ever) for almost 15 years now. It's a good way to contact me via email, and I do answer all email from readers. Please see: www.allergyfree-gardening.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mary Rose on June 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Finally, an alternative to massive drug-therapy for folks with pollen allergies! Allergy-Free Gardening is a radical book, full of the valuable information allergy-sufferers need to excercise control over their immediate environment, the most likely cause of pollen allergies (unless you live in Tucson, where the city planted fruitless mulberry trees whose highly-allergenic pollen makes it impossible for some to go outside).
Ogren includes a comprehensive listing of plants and gives each an OPALS (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale) rating, so the informed gardener can now plant wisely and avoid plants that make people sick. OPALS is being used by the US Dept. of Agriculture in cities throughout the country-we can hope that with this new information, Recreation and Parks departments can begin making informed choices about what to plant in public areas so the likes of the Tucson fiasco is never repeated.
It's an indespensible guide for any allergy-sufferer who loves to garden, any gardener whose children or family suffer from pollen allergies, and should be required reading for all landscape architects. A real find!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Isaac Victor on April 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading and reviewing Safe Sex in the Garden, the newest book by Thomas Leo
Ogren. I had already bought and read (several times) Allergy-Free Gardening. I am becomming a real fan of this author, who I would say knows more about health and horticulture than any other writer I've ever read.
Seriously, Ogren is that rare find, an original thinker who can write well. In both of his books the
text moves right along. It is almost like reading a good novel, except that as you read it,
you are learning so many remarkable, often quite incredible new things.
I have a friend who heard this author speak, at the Huntington Museum and arboretum, and
she told me that he is a fantastic speaker too. But that doesn't surprise me at all.
In Allergy-Free Gardening you will see what has happened in modern landscapng, where
tidy plants (male) are so much favored over pollen-free plants (female). There is a huge
section in the book where many thousands of garden and landscape plants are discussed, and
each one is given an easy to understand allergy (1-10) ranking. Everyone I know who owns this book has put it to use, making their own yards allergy-free. I count this book as probably the most useful
gardening book I own, and find that I refer to it over and over, and not just on health matters
either. The culture of plants, how to grow them best, all this is well covered.
I just can't recommend this book too highly. I wish that every single gardener, landscaper, allergist, doctor,
and horticulture teacher owned a copy. The city arborists need to read this book too, since
so often they are the ones who are planting all those allegenic, male, pollen producing street trees.
This is a good one (as is the super intersting Safe Sex in the Garden) and if you have a
garden and care about your own health, you'll simply love reading it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christy Mountin on April 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Packed with information that is scientific yet very easy to understand, I found Allergy-Free Gardening to be completely useful. It is a book that I refer to often and already I have been making very good use of it in my own gardens. This book is arranged in such a way that it easy and quick to find any and garden plants discussed and allergy ranked. I like the way every plant is ranked on a one to ten scale since this makes it perfectly clear as to the allergy potential of each. I also have found this to be an excellent general gardening book, full of useful tips on much more than just allergies. The author's explanation about plant sex and male and female plants makes a great deal of sense. It is something that I hope will be much better understood in the near future. I have been recommending Allergy-Free Gardening to everyone I know who gardens and certainly to everyone I know who has allergies. It is an impressive, well-researched, fun to read book and really, a must for anyone with a decent gardening library. Last week there was a large article about this book in the San Jose Mercury News and the garden writer there obviously agrees with me. If you have allergies, this is the one to own.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Said Addo on August 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Allergy-Free Gardening is an unusual new book, one that breaks new ground in an important way. I am an experienced gardener and I especially like the way this book is arranged. Everything is easy to find, perfectly understandable, and makes good sense. I find that the plant-allergy scale in particular makes this book highly useful. The author of this book, Ogren, has done a huge amount of work, and it shows. Surprising to me too, was the author's use of numerous interesting antidotes about different plants. This is a very well crafted book and everyone I've show it to has also been impressed. I would recommend this book to anyone with any interest in plants, gardening, and, or, allergy. The advice here will be invaluable in reducing allergies in cities big and small, and most of all, in the actual yards of the people who are smart enough to buy this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mom de Plume on February 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
In our quest for a tidier landscape, it would seem we have been creating an allergy laden nightmare. Many thanks to Tom Ogren, an agricultural scientist, for pointing out that in plants that have separate sexes, the female is always the one without the pollen. Unfortunately, she also has the flowers that can drop and litter the yard or sidewalk. This has led to the growing trend of planting male only trees in landscapes. But, if you have an allergy or asthma, these male only trees can be hazardous to your health because they produce the pollen. The good news is Mr. Ogren explains how to top graft your trees so you might be able to save them!
Mr. Ogren has created an extremely useful tool to rate the allergen causing potential for thousands of trees, shrubs, perennials and herbs. In encyclopedic fashion, he lays out these plants under their scientific name and adds helpful insights about many of them.
His allergen rating scale is so thoroughly researched that it has been adopted by the USDA to rank entire cities.
There is so much more to this book than a discussion of pollen though. The opening chapters of this book have many useful ideas on how to lead a healthier life and in the process reduce your allergic reactions. For instance, flowers rated on the low pollen side of 2 to 4 in this book, are usually safe to have around unless you directly inhale their fragrance.
Allergy-Free Gardening is bound to become a most valuable reference for all those who have allergies or who have loved ones that suffer from allergies.
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