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Spring Brings Sun, Sneezes
by Jill Lufrano
Mar 20, 2012 | 1630 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Above: Bob Harmon, spokesman for the Washoe County Department of Regional Parks and Open Space, talks about the May Arboretum’s Labyrinth Garden on Tuesday a few hours before the annual Spring Equinox Walk.
Tribune/John Byrne - Above: Bob Harmon, spokesman for the Washoe County Department of Regional Parks and Open Space, talks about the May Arboretum’s Labyrinth Garden on Tuesday a few hours before the annual Spring Equinox Walk.
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A Weather Channel graph shows tree pollen levels from Tuesday night through Friday.
A Weather Channel graph shows tree pollen levels from Tuesday night through Friday.
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RENO — Local residents were treated to a pleasant welcome as the first day of spring greeted the region Tuesday.

The overall mild winter weather allowed some blooms at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park to begin showing their colors as the yearly group prepared to converge on the May Arboretum’s Labyrinth Garden at 5:30 p.m. for the annual Spring Equinox Walk.

Many visitors to the park enjoyed the weather. One woman used a bench to take in the burst of sun that peaked through the clouds. A jogger loped along a pathway, passing daffodils that had started to bloom along the way. A mother strolled her daughter through the gardens.

Another woman spent a short part of her afternoon Tuesday meandering through the Wilbur D. May Arboretum at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno.

“I love coming here. It’s like being out of town even when you’re in town. I love the fresh air and the sense of being along,” said Sherry, who didn’t want to use her last name. “Spring is the rebirth of things to come into your life. I like to be outdoors more and I love the flowers.”

Each year, volunteers help plant bulbs throughout the park. When in full bloom, the grounds are alive with color, said Bob Harmon, spokesman for Washoe County Department of Regional Parks and Open Space.

“It’s absolutely spectacular,” he said. “They’re all over the gardens.”

The labyrinth garden at Rancho San Rafael is dedicated to victims of violent crime in the community and their loved ones.

The Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Gardens opened in May 1986 to illustrate how plant life adapts and survives in the rugged climate between the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin.

To learn about workshops at the park or to volunteer, visit www.maycenter.com, or call volunteer coordinator Denise Evans at 823-6500.

When walking through the park, or anywhere in the northern Nevada region, spring is also a time when many residents begin feeling a bit sniffly.

The waiting room at Allergy & Asthma Associates in Sparks was busy with patients seeking treatment as ash, elm, cottonwood and other trees have begun pumping out season-high pollen counts.

The local allergy and asthma specialist group is the only one in the region to have its own pollen counting station and posts counts regularly online at www.allergyasthmareno.com. On the front page, click the “Pollen Report” button to find the counts of which trees are in bloom and how high the pollen counts are on any given day, said Dr. Boris Lokshin, an allergy and asthma specialist.

“The trees will play games about who will be first,” Lokshin said jokingly.

This year is really no different, he said, other than the fact that pollination began earlier because of the mild winter. Couple that with the phenomenon that last year the area experienced an exceptionally heavy pollination problem.

“Last year could have been a sensitizing year for many people,” Lokshin said. “They could be sensitized last year but didn’t have a chance to really feel it. Now, they’re going to have symptoms this year. They’re going to feel it this year.”

Allergies feel much like a cold, but they are accompanied by itching of the eyes, nose and throat, he said. If the cold-like symptoms last a long while, it’s best to see a doctor, he said.

The worst allergy-producers in the northern Nevada region in spring start with juniper trees, followed by elm, cottonwoods, willows, birches, then pine. That is followed by the grasses. The pollen counts reach highs and lows in bursts depending on the weather, Lokshin said.

But, with all the sneezing, itching and runny noses, there is still no excuse for not enjoying the beautiful surroundings the Reno-Tahoe-Sparks area provides, he said.

“I don’t want people to worry,” Lokshin said. “We live in such a beautiful area. There is absolutely no way people should be sitting inside. We should be able to help them enjoy the outside. That’s what we’re here for. They want to be outside and I think we do have the tools to help them.”
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