Gifts for Gardeners (To Make): Music to Garden To

Remember mixed tapes? The format is all but dead but I’m still keeping a tape player on hand and have hoarded a box full that were given as friendship letters from loved ones over a decade ago when it was still our favourite way to say we cared. CD and DVD are the obvious tangible format of choice these days, but maybe it’s just my age (old) or the way my time is distributed but I’ve lost the love for making mixes. I can’t even muster the effort to half-ass it let alone take the time and care I used to in not only choosing the songs, but carefully transitioning tracks with my “disco mixer” and designing original sleeves for every tape. It’s kind of sad really, and at times a form of creativity that I miss. Although, I definitely have not lost my love of music or my desire to share it. I’ve just lost the ambition to share it in a time-consuming and artful way.

But this week I’ve been thinking about gifts to give to gardeners that one can make; gifts that consider the “giftee”, are thoughtful and require some effort to make, but do not cost a lot of money. I won’t condescend to you by framing this idea within the context of “In these trying economic times…” because frankly, if I hear that phrase used as a reason to be frugal, or god forbid, scale back a little one more time I am going to lose it. As an aside, how many times since this so-called recession/depression has been formally confirmed have I seen newscasts that propose to teach us, the apparently idiot public, how to spend less and scale back presented by some doofus laden in bling, suggesting that we simply “Spend less money”? GAH!

Anyrant, listening to music while gardening is a great way to enhance the experience. I don’t do it often because sometimes I enjoy the sounds of the garden itself as a part of the total experience. You know, the trucks beeping as they back up or the mockingbird calls at the community garden backed up by the constant hum of The Beer Store coolers.

It’s all a part of the ambiance. The soothing sounds of Nature.

The great thing about listening to music while gardening is that you can match your gardening mood or tasks on any given day to a suitable soundtrack. You can listen to aggressive and fast music when you’re on a rampage against compacted soil or a booming aphid population. Or when you just need to release some pent up anger. Or you can choose gentle, calming music on a slow day when you’re in the mood for reflection, connection with your garden and affectionate contemplation.

So rather than simply giving a mix to a friend of music you like, why not get more specific and choose your favourite songs to garden to? I know you’ll have your own favourites — please do share them in the comments — but to get the ball rolling, here are a few of mine:

  • Nick DrakeFrom the Morning” – I often think of this song when I contemplate the affection I feel for my gardens. “Place to Be” is a good one too. Or “Horn.” Really, anything from the Pink Moon album works.
  • Stevie WonderJoy Inside My Tears” – Anything from Stevie Wonder’s soundtrack to the film “The Secret Life of Plants” is an obvious choice but when I thought about Stevie Wonder my initial thought was actually “Joy Inside My Tears” from the excellent, “Songs in the Key of Life.”
  • Stevie WonderDon’t You Worry Bout a Thing” – I don’t mean to make this “Stevie Wonder and Friends” but this is a good upbeat song that reminds me to chill out, take things in stride, and in the context of gardening feel a certain appreciation for the struggles I have overcome.
  • Nina SimoneAin’t Got No, I Got Life” – Here’s another one in the Things-suck-but-I-still-kick-ass category. And at least I have my garden.
  • Public EnemyLouder Than Bomb” – Yes, I do think Public Enemy is completely appropriate when gardening. Because when Chuck D wrote, “My posses always ready, and they’re waitin’ in my zone” he meant plants and the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, right?
  • Nina SimoneSave Me” – This is for when you are drowning in an aphid infestation.
  • The RootsThe Next Movement” – This song never fails to lift a bad mood and get me moving.
  • The Rolling StonesStreet Fighting Man” – This is one of my favourite “tearing shit up” songs.
  • Elliott SmithTomorrow Tomorrow” – I fell in love with the XO album during a particularly miserable summer and always ache to listen to it around June/July. Listen to this song and remind yourself that the forgiving thing about gardening is that there is always another chance to try again next year.
  • FeistMushaboom” – My friend is going to give me crap for listing this (sorry J) but COME ON, she talks about pining for a place to start a garden when you’re living in an apartment without a yard. I can’t help but relate.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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9 thoughts on “Gifts for Gardeners (To Make): Music to Garden To

  1. That Stevie Wonder, his “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing” gets stuck in my head for days on end…

    Have you seen Nice little widget site that allows you to share mixes.

  2. What’s wrong with Mushaboom? ;)

    I’m a big Tori Amos fan so the song ‘Datura’ comes to mind often, with it’s haunting list of specimens in the background. Prefect for when total devastation comes through the garden, as it did in the form of a hurricane for her..

    “My gardener, I had this emergency message from my gardener, like I get this message in Berlin. “Your gardener’s calling from the tropics – they say it’s tragic.” So I’m going to have to go down there and figure it out. But I’ve lost everything in the garden except the Datura. (laughs) Which is a hallucinogen, that’s good because then it’ll help us get everything back together again.”

  3. I would have to vote for “Shout” by the Isley Brothers.

    More so based on the fact that I think that particular song should accompany pretty much any task.

    Plus, you just can’t help but dance to that song. I dare anybody to try!

  4. It is a perfect gift. It allows you to say things you just can’t in words and shows that you really spent some time thinking about the receiver.

  5. My favorite song to garden to when things are being taken over in the garden – weeds, bugs, anything – is Invincible by Ok Go. It is totally empowering when you’re ripping stuff out. “When they finally come to destroy the earth, they’ll have to go through you first,” is the first line of the song. :) I also like It’s a Disaster by the same band. :)

  6. I like to listen to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” when I am rigging ways to get rid of gophers. The little bastards.

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