ACHOO!

The drought has ended. The rains have ceased for the moment. The sun is shining. The sky is blue and temperatures are rising. Yesterday morning I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy the tranquility of a morning outdoors. Coffee and smart phone in hand, ready to catch up on emails and texts surrounded by gardens and a symphony of singing birds, I lowered myself into a chair.

The serenity didn’t last long. Within two minutes, the surface of my coffee and my phone were caked with yellow. Folks, it’s pine pollen season in New Hampshire and it caught me by surprise.

Pine Pollen 2017

Friends in my home state of Virginia have been experiencing the yellow storm for weeks. Perhaps the heavy rains have been masking the explosion in New Hampshire until now.

Pine pollen is arriving over the land like snow flurries. The pines have large pollen grains making them easy to id and those grains have large cavities or ‘bladders’ that allow them to be blown over great distances. When the breezes hit the pines surrounding us, I now see the billowy clouds of yellow moving with the currents. We may not like it, but it’s doing what it must to preserve its species.

Windows and doors are now closed. Car stays in the garage and I drink my morning coffee indoors. It will be a nuisance for awhile but is not suppose to terribly affect our allergies.  Pollen counts are high for oaks, birch, and ash trees that are the likely culprits contributing to my cough, scratchy eyes and throat when I work outdoors.

To see the pollen counts in your neck of the woods, check out this site: Pollen.com. It was there that I discovered that we are near our seasonal pollen peak on the NH Seacoast.  Yay!

 

 

 

 

Ahhhhh-choo!

Our porch is probably our favorite room in the house during the warmer months. It’s where mister gardener drinks his morning coffee and reads the newspaper. It’s where we love to sit and watch the dozens and dozens of hummingbirds that battle at nectar feeders. It’s a nice place to end the day without experiencing biting insects. BUT right now it is practically unusable.

A yellow haze is clogging the air. The loblolly pines (Pinus taeda L.) are reproducing. Although the loblolly’s pollen does not cause allergic reactions, it does cause a different reaction in most people. Lines at the car wash are longer these days. Our black dogs are both ‘Old Yellas.’  The fish pond is yellow. Leaves are yellow. And the porch is yellow. Windy days like today are dreaded. A little rain is always welcome to wash the pollen to the ground.

The pollen is sticky. We make a valid attempt to wash and vacuum the porch regularly or the coated surfaces form a difficult to remove thick mat that eventually turns a darker not so pretty shade of yellow.

Forest biologist Claire Williams, who studies airborne pollen at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC, says that during peak pollen season in late March and early April, loblolly pines shed millions of pounds of pollen into the air. Although most of that pollen lands nearby, perhaps in our porch, Williams and her colleagues discovered viable pine pollen as far as 2,000 feet in the air and 25 miles offshore. I think the pines are here to stay.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester