At London’s Chelsea Flower Show, Olivia Kirk of KKE Architects has designed a garden for people suffering with hay fever, allergy and asthma in mind. The garden was designed for the University of Worcester to provide a tranquil spot for staff and students to sit and relax. The allergy friendly garden aims to compliment the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the University, which tries to help people suffering with allergy and asthma by conducting research and consultancy on large organic particles both in the indoor and outdoor environments.
Although sharing similar features with many of the other small, modern gardens at the Show, Olivia’s allergy friendly design has been carefully planned to give a balance of shade, sun and shelter. She used natural materials and low-allergen plants with the aim of causing the least allergy symptoms for people. Olivia explains, that "as a rule of thumb, if the flower is insect-pollinated, you are absolutely fine, apart from a few exceptions. If it's wind pollinated, the pollen is designed to be buoyant and it stays in the air a lot longer. But with insect-pollinated flowers - when the insect has done its job - the pollen is heavy and falls to the ground." With this in mind Olivia has used flowers such as irises and peonies. Her choice of trees for the garden was more limited as many are wind-pollinated, but she chose amelanchier.
Olivia Kirk's garden for allergy sufferers was awarded the Silver-Gilt Flora Medal by the RHS.