Peter Prakke

PGP Contributor

Peter Prakke knows the all about the horrors of war from first-hand experience.

Born in the village of Eibergen, in the eastern part of Holland, Peter grew up under Nazi occupation. During the push to liberate the village, two British soldiers died in the battle. Their graves are in the village cemetery.

With the passing of time, Peter never forgot the sacrifice made by the soldiers, and many years later has created his book The Veterans Gardening Guide™ as a tribute to them, and all veterans representing their country during war and conflicts.

The Veterans Gardening Guide™ is a great resource for veterans, novice gardeners and garden enthusiasts. Within the pages are guides to planting, pruning and year-round care for gardens. The major difference with this book it also will help to improve the lives of those living with allergies, asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

“What we plant in the garden has a direct effect on our health and the health of those near us,” says Peter. “A pollen-producing male tree will easily expose you to ten times more pollen than a similar tree growing down the neighbourhood block. This can be compared to second-hand smoke.” He goes on to say that emergency departments are seeing a stark increase in the number of children admitted during the pollen season.

Peter has worked in agriculture, husbandry, and horticulture in the Netherlands, England, Kuwait, and Canada. He created the Plant a Tree – Create a Park(c) program in Smiths Falls, Ont., and initiated the Bravery Park™ in Orangeville, Ont., to honour veterans in allergy-friendly park settings. He has worked tirelessly to promote allergy-friendly landscapes in schoolyards and in both private- and government-owned properties.

He is a major proponent of the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale® (OPALS). The scale measures the allergy potential of all garden and landscape plants. The United States Department of Agriculture and the American Lung Association use the scale to make improved landscaping decisions.

“Pollen levels in the city and urban areas are high and increasing due to global warming and the interaction with air pollution. The perfect solution is to limit the number of male plantings, and focus our attention on female plants that trap pollen and clean the air of particles and shed no pollen,” says Peter.

According to Thomas Ogren, who created the OPALS® system, pollen isn’t always that easy to see, nor is it bright yellow. It can be white, grey, green, brown, red, and even purple.

Experienced gardeners or budding gardeners will discover a new world in the Veterans Gardening Guide for those suffering from allergies, asthma, and COPD. Readers will find that male and female plants of separate-sexed species behave differently. Female plants produce fruit and seeds, and male plants produce pollen. Male plants don’t produce pollen year-round.

The Veterans Gardening Guide lists hundreds of plants with each showing its OPALS® ranking. For more information, go to