Chelsea Flower Show blooms with banks of flowers, clouds of pollen - and at last a haven for hay fever sufferers

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The Independent Online
SPOTTING a hay fever sufferer at the Chelsea Flower Show is about as likely as seeing a cat asleep at Cruft's. With hundreds of thousands of blooms from more than 700 exhibitors on display for four days in the narrow confines of a tent, the dangers are obvious.

But at this year's show, which opens in London today, there is hope - in the shape of the National Asthma Campaign's low-allergen garden. 'We're trying to show how with careful planning, people with asthma or hay fever can enjoy their garden,' explained Lucy Huntington, the display's designer.

Her advice included: avoid heavily scented plants in favour of, for example, lupins and irises; use trellises instead of hedges and stone paving instead of lawns.

A visitor to the garden sneezed. Unfortunately, the zone was not as pollen-free as it might have been, largely thanks to the Women's Institute's Woodland Garden display next door, which, Ms Huntington said, was packed with precisely the kind of pollen-rich flora she had avoided.

It is an annual Chelsea rite that one celebrity or another should be honoured by a floral namesake - this year we were presented with a Barbadian flower called 'Sir Garry' (after Sir Garfield Sobers), and the 'Mr JCB' rose. Confusingly, one rhododendron has been named 'Desert Orchid'.

The police have dedicated a stand to what they describe as 'the thorny issue of garden theft'. One in five of last year's 170,000 visitors claimed to have fallen victim to this previously uncharted crime.

Top tips to combat horticultural heists included planting prickly bushes around the borders of your garden to act as barbed wire, and marking property with a postcode.

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