Clea Danaan - Western Mountains & Plains
- Category: Expert Bios
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where I learned to garden organically. When I moved to Colorado, I had to learn how to garden all over again - and in the process became a far more proficient gardener. Gardening is a way to interact with Life and Spirit - I wrote Sacred Land: Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political & Environmental Change (Llewellyn, 2007) as a witness to this process of spiritual, life-changing gardening. My second book, Voices of the Earth: The Path of Green Spirituality (Llewellyn 2009) looks at our relationship with nature in general, including the garden. I live in the Denver area with my husband, a music therapist, and our two homeschooled children.
Please tell us briefly about your favorite cause/business/product in which you are involved that you would like to share with the general public and why.
Sacred Land: Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political, & Environmental Change by Clea Danaan (me!) (Llewellyn, 2007) is a book about changing the world through gardening. It includes stories of women making a difference, step-by-step instructions for basic organic techniques, and a new way of looking at the garden as a network of allies, a spiritual practice for humans living on a dynamic Earth.
Where can members get more of your advice?
Visit my website and get my books!
Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
I live in eastern Colorado, which is hot during the summer, arid year round, and cold in the winter. We have a short growing season because of our altitude. The soil here is clay, alkaline soil. I am in Zone 5. I grew up in Zone 8, in rainy and gray Pacific Northwest.
How long have you been gardening?
Since childhood - so 25 years with help, and 15 years on my own.
What triggered your interest?
My dad's big home garden.
What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
I am an author, healer, and mom.
Clea's Book Recommendations
Voices of the Earth offers a guide to connecting more deeply with the earth in both intuitive and practical ways.
Sacred Land: Intuitive Gardening for Personal, Political and Environmental Change
Clea's Favorite Websites
Seeds of Change
What formal education do you have?
BA, Western Washington University, interdisciplinary concentration "People and the Land: Psychology, the Arts, & Environmental Education"; MA studies at Naropa University Creation Spirituality and Somatic Psychology; MFA in Creative Writing from National University.
What formal horticultural training do you have?
What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
I'm very into cool season gardening, like coldframes. It excites me to grow salad veggies and brassicas in fall, then harvest through the snow. I have also gotten very interested in chickens as an integral part of the suburban landscape; we have four chickens right now.
What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Pesticides, And bags of grass or leaves at the curb - what a waste! Throw it in the compost please!
How much time per week do you spend gardening?
Depends on what other projects I have going on (like being pregnant or something), but usually around 10 or more.
How much time per week do you spend working at the business of gardening, such as consulting, reading, writing or talking about your gardening subject?
I write about three hours a week these days.
What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?
What other biographical information would you like to share?
What do you like most about gardening?
The relationship with the earth. I love to plant seeds, a promise of an ongoing, life relationship with climate, soil, and life. Then the rewards are literally sweet! (And spicy, and tangy, and...)
What do you dislike most about gardening?
Watering. I still have to set up my drip line. And I'll tell you, it gets so hot here in the heart of summer. Makes it hard to get out there in the middle of the day.
What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
Probably my father. He dreamed of an organic farm from the time I was born, and taught me about techniques like seaweed fertilizer.
What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Sowing seeds. I also have a baby apple tree that I look forward to sitting under with a good book.
What is your favorite time in the garden?
Evening. If it's not too mosquito-y. Otherwise, early morning is magical. I also love fall, even though I'm not actively gardening much. The smell of fall makes me happy.
What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
The UW arboretum in Seattle. I love wandering along the paths, and had a magical experience in the middle of a circle of sequoia where I could feel their presences around me.
What is your favorite color in the garden?
Deep purple of a ripe eggplant.
If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Man. That is a toughie.I guess kale, because it is pretty, easy, hardy, and healthful. My family eats a lot of it all year.
What plant have you tried to grow that has given you the most trouble? Or, what plant would you like to grow and can't, and why?
This is embarrassing, but I can't grow basil to save my life. Everyone I know can grow basil, but here Ms Garden Girl can't. I would also really like to grow figs or citrus, but don't have room to bring them indoors in the fall.
What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
Boots, muddy jeans, flannel (which is not really wise in Colorado summer).
Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
The garden is a living being, a community of many living beings, with whom we participate. We can learn much about life from listening, and letting the land lead.
Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
How can I have a garden?
And what's the answer?
So many people think they cannot because of space, time, training, whatever. Everyone can grow something, from a pot to a rooftop garden to a space for a favorite plant in the back yard.
What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
That community gardens are for poor people.
And, what is the reality?
The reality is that all kinds use community gardens and they enliven all communities.
What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
Women who want to make the world a better place, save money, feel healthier. (and men, too, but I focus on women in my book).
Would you like to participate, or can you recommend someone who you think should? We're always looking for more expert gardeners to tell about their philosophies and give their plant recommendations contact us and we'll get started (it's easy and a great way to promote yourself).