My stepmother is a painter. Mostly she paints plants, especially hydrangeas. When she and Dad married (he was 87), a large potted hydrangea occupied their bay window. It became one of Dad’s chores to carry this awkwardly sprawling houseplant outdoors in springtime and back outside each autumn. Dad passed away two winters ago. A neighbor helped carry the hydrangea out and back. That fall, for the first time, scales infested the hydrangea. I got a frantic call, helped talk my stepmom through the treatment process. The plant has healed now. I like to think it symbolizes the fading of grief.
I love trees, but trees don’t always love me. The trouble is: I’m susceptible to pollen allergies, and those allergies are always worst in springtime when trees are the primary culprits.
Where I live in northern Utah, my allergy season begins in mid- to late March as the wind begins transmitting juniper pollen, and it ends around the third week of June when the American linden has finished blooming. My town is full of allergenic trees, and so is my yard.
A recent study I did found that the most commonly planted urban trees in our area include Norway maple, green ash, quaking aspen, and box elder – all of which are wind-pollinated, and thus send pollen granules hither and yon in search of another tree to bear their seed.
Of course some of that pollen ends up being inhaled by human nostrils. We bought our home in part because it had a mature, shade-filled landscape. This means sharing my life with serious pollen-generators like lilacs, maples, cottonwoods, aspens, spruce, and pines.