Sound Garden: What Our Hort Friends Are Playing, Planting This Weekend

Amid all the talk about enjoying the “fruits of your labor” this weekend, we gardeners can say we take that old chestnut literally.

Our own plans for Labor Day will include: nibbling on the first signs of guava season, working on a new furniture installation under our citrus trees, going to the beach, and shaking our tailfeathers athletically to our favorite songs. (And just generally decompressing from our best month ever.)

What are our garden friends up to this weekend? we wondered. What veggies are they harvesting, and what music is flavoring their backyard BBQs? We scattered some nosy emails to the wind and got back a wonderful response, a fragrant collection of playlists and plantings — from basil and Modest Mouse in Oregon, to tomato glamour shots and Valerie June in the Midwest, to figs and Lana Del Rey in Los Angeles.

Ten coast-to-coast reports in total, including us. Check out the (in some cases a smidge NSFW) roundup below!

1. Who, what, where: Amanda Thomsen, landscape designer, Kiss My Aster blogger and author, outside Chicago, IL


What are you working on in your garden?

I’ve been harvesting Black Krim tomatoes by the truckload and Ruby Ball cabbages just went in for fall. Hoping to get time to chip away at my partially edible/no lawn front lawn this weekend. Got raspberries in last week, need time to plant the oregano and horseradish that’s been sitting out there. And I’m desperately seeking orange pansies, even though it’s too early — they will faint in this heat!

What’s on your playlist?

I’m currently obsessed with Valerie June’s Pushin’ Against a Stone. It’s a perfect album for yard work, road trips…whatever!


2. Who, what, where: Danielle Gano, founder, Elle Communications, and outdoor hostess extraordinaire, La Jolla, CA


Second lady from the left: Danielle Gano, at home in Windansea Beach.

What are you working on in your garden?

The only gardening plans I have for the weekend will be inside of a bloody mary.

What’s on your playlist?

First, poring over the new SerialBox site.

Second, enjoying current faves on Spotify, notably: The Lone Bellow’s The Lone Bellow, Night Beds’ Country Sleep, Noah Gundersen’s Family, Gregory Alan Isakov’s The Weatherman, Rogue Wave’s Nightingale Floors, Milo Greene’s Milo Greene, Panama’s It’s Not Over EP, Caveman’s Caveman, James Blake’s Overgrown.


3. Who, what, where: Snug Harbor Farm, unique plant purveyor, Kennebunk, ME


The Snug Harbor Farm-ily

What are you working on at the farm?

“Fall will be really exciting here!” says Todd Carr, director of retail operations and marketing. “I am working on our Autumn Workshop Series, which includes a flower arranging workshop October 6th with Sarah Ryhanen of Little Flower School, and Fall Forage Wreath Making, et cetera, will also be added to the roster. In addition, we will be hosting our Haunted Farm and Christmas Prelude events and adding unique pieces to our line of hypertufa.”

What’s on your playlist?

“Music is super important to us all here; customers are always asking, ‘What is playing?’” Todd says. “When it is playing here on the farm, it just adds that final layer to our atmosphere and vibe! The following are our top five from the summer playlist — pretty much on repeat and killer compositions in my opinion.”

Gardens & Villa’s “Black Hills,” Allah-Las’s “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind),” Pure X’s “Easy,” Still Corners’ “The Trip,” Charles Bradley’s “No Time For Dreaming.”


4. Who, what, where: Jenn Rinaldi, founder of The Garden Stamp, Frederick, MD


What are you working on in your garden?

Soil amending and fall planting. If anyone ever catches me serenading the veggies, chances are it will be one of these tunes…

What’s on your playlist?

The Strokes’ “Modern Age,” Tokyo Police Club’s “Bambi,” The Drums’ “What You Were,” Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ “Garden.”


5. Who, what, where: The staff of Timber Press, horticultural book publisher, Portland, OR

Timber Press Music Picks

Timber Press staff members share their playlists. Top row from left to right: Besse Lynch, Megan Zimmer, Emma Alpaugh, Tom Fischer. Bottom row: Todd Stadler, Kathryn Juergens, Patrick Barber

What are you working on in your garden?

Todd Stadler, webmaster: I’m enjoying the zinnias, but we’re knee-deep in tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers and basil. And, therefore, salsas and Caprese salads.

Megan Zimmer, senior marketing designer: I am enjoying all of the dahlias bursting into bloom.

Kathryn Juergens, marketing manager: I am harvesting cherry tomatoes and basil and weeding my hellstrip.

Patrick Barber, creative director: I’m making pickles and putting up peach and cucumber shrubs. Planted favas for a winter cover crop. Came back from vacation and found out that all the drought-tolerant plants we put in earlier in the summer looked much better after not being watered for ten days. Now that’s my kind of gardening!

Emma Alpaugh, publicity manager: I recently moved to the most urban part of Portland, so am sadly gardenless for a while. I am taking advantage of our fine farmers markets, however. I have made a personal goal to consume a stone fruit a day before the season is over — I am kind of in a panic about this!

What’s on your playlist?

TS: Honestly, I enjoy gardening for the pleasures of listening to nothing but the ambient sounds of my yard and my own thoughts (plus the occasional, well-placed expletive), but I might conceivably listen to these songs in this order: Rush’s “The Trees,” Modest Mouse’s “Life Like Weeds,” Aesop Rock’s “Shovel,” Chemical Brothers’ “Dig Your Own Hole,” Cut Chemist’s “The Garden.”

MZ: Peter Gabriel’s “Digging in the Dirt,” Jens Lekman’s “Maple Leaves,” Frightened Rabbit’s “Old Old Fashioned,” Valerie June’s “Workin’ Woman Blues,” Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.”

KJ: Albums I’ve been listening to: Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, The Savages’ Silence Yourself, [and] Kanye West’s Yeezus.

PB: Albums — The Beatles’ Let It Be, Bl’asts’ The Power of Expression, Miles Davis’s The Complete On the Corner Sessions, Alice Russell’s Pot of Gold Remixes, Volumes 1 and 2; The Mills Brothers’ 1930s Recordings. In keeping with [Timber Press author] Janit Calvo’s theme, all music is listened to on a speaker the size of my pinky fingernail.

EA: While strolling to my neighborhood farmer’s market, I am loving the following on my playlist: Beirut’s “The Rip Tide,” Wolf Parade’s “Shine a Light,” The Head and The Heart’s “Down in the Valley,” and anything Dolly Parton.

Besse Lynch, publicist: I can’t stop listening to Laura Mvula’s album Sing to the Moon, and the song “Green Garden” has become my summer gardening anthem. It makes me want to throw a (dancing) garden party for all who love plants! I would serve herb-y gin cocktails garnished with lemon cucumber and purple Thai basil—the two plants that have all but taken over my tiny vegetable plot.

Tom Fischer, senior acquisitions editor: Dinah Washington singing “Blue Gardenia.”


6. Who, what, where: David Michael, a principal at design firm Tecture, and designer of The Patio restaurant’s vertical garden, below, San Diego.

We look forward to seeing what else pops up here — on the menus, and from the ground!

What you are you working on?

The Patio has been a success, so much so that they are asking us to design another one. This will hold probably green walls and an herb garden.

What’s on your playlist?

At the Tecture shop we have been listening to Alt-J (“Matilda”), mixed in with the Ramones (“I Want to Be Sedated,” “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”) and the Clash (“London’s Burning,” “Bankrobber”)


7. Who, what, where: Thomas Ogren, author of Allergy-Free Gardening and horticulturist, San Luis Obispo, CA


Tom Ogren, his granddaughter Annika, and one of his many bunches of Concord grapes.

What are you working on in your garden?

I’m still picking some pears, mostly Bartlett, but the very best ones, my favorite, are the little Sugar Seckel pears. You pick them green, and can eat them while still hard. Ah, delicious.

Am also swamped with masses of Concord grapes right now, and have been for a couple of weeks.

I’m also still blessed with quite a few cherry tomatoes. Don’t even recall the variety, Sweet 100s perhaps, but they are darn sweet, and awfully good.

What’s on your playlist?

Well, you asked for it! Here are a couple of my own songs. I wrote the words and my buddy, Mark Flanagan wrote the music. Mark and I are singing, with him in the lead; my youngest sister, Rosie O’Leary is also singing, in “Sittin’ in My Backyard.”

Sittin’ in My Backyard [audio]

Dancin’ With My Daughter [audio]


8. Who, what, where: Janit Calvo, owner, Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and author, Gardening in Miniature, Seattle WA


What are you working on in your garden?

Harvesting now: All tomatoes as they are ready — we have Roma, beefsteak and cherry this year, the last of the green onions, the last of the mustard greens, sugar pumpkins (!!), the last of the raspberries, blackberries, always harvesting the herbs…

Planting now: Leaf lettuce, kale, more mustard greens, Swiss chard, the neighbor’s rhubarb plant that he gave me, transferring my Alpine strawberries to the ground this weekend — they didn’t do well in pots with the heat this summer. [And] a miniature garden for another neighbor who moved away this summer.

What’s on your playlist?

“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke — I know, but I can’t get it out of my head. Adele’s 21 album — I heart her. [And] Katy Perry’s first album — I know, but I just realized that she is one of the good guys and she rocks those outfits.


9. Who, what, where:

Jennifer Gilbert Asher, artist, designer and co-owner, TerraTrellis, TerraSculpture

Jennifer Gilbert Asher Greystone Mansion-featured-on-thehorticult

What you are you working on in your garden and studio?

Harvesting berries and figs! Researching allium bulbs to plant in fall. Studio work: sculpting geometric tomato cages [and] larger-scale sculpture inspired by kryptonite.

What’s on your playlist?

Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” Imogene Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” Phoenix’s “If I Ever Feel Better,” Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” (I know, cliché, but I can’t stop loving it), Pink’s “So What.”


10. Who, what, where: Oh, hai…it’s us!


Lazy Sunday at The Horticult HQ.

What are you working on in your garden?

Renovating the “lounge” under our citrus trees, trying to get the stain right on some slats coming up in our “carnivore corner” (sneak peak here), fertilizing our fuchsia and vinca, and eating the first feijoa guavas of the year. (That is, when we’re not at the beach getting sand in uncomfortable places!)


What’s on your playlist?

Serge Gainsbourg’s “Ford Mustang,” Donna Summer’s “Rumour Has It”, “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood, Neko Case’s “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth,” and La Lupe’s immortal soul-clap cover of Peggy Lee’s “Fever.”

Also in heavy rotation are Yacht’s rollicking “Paradise Engineering” (our motto if we ever had one) and “Utopia”:

We’re also doing lots of disco shimmying to DJ PHSH’s good-to-the-last-drop mixes for party series the Do-Over. It’s a journey from Camp Lo’s “Luchini” to Shalimar’s “This Is for the Lover in You” to Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” to “Strawberry Letters 23” by Shuggie Otis:

This weekend, what tune is your garden singing? And what loves are you laboring over?