Dear Indigenous Enthusiast
I am so happy spring is on the doorstep and, like me, I am sure your minds are all turning to your gardens. It is always an exciting time when the delicate little green buds start popping and the fruit trees start blooming, observing your garden at this time of year is a happy and fulfilling experience.
Although it is still early the birds are starting to become a little more vocal and many more of them are visiting the feeding table in the nursery to fatten up in preparation for the breeding season.
The Aloes and succulents are looking their best and are constantly filled with bird and insect life feeding on their bounty.
We’ve been very busy in the nursery this month. Jonathan and Bowa built this cute little donkey to warm the water for the ladies who wash the planting bags we recycle. It works perfectly and makes just enough hot water with a tiny fire.
The furrows we use to recycle and catch runoff water have deteriorated over the years, so we are refurbishing them in time for the summer rains.
We have been busy replanting all our Mother Plant beds where we take cuttings. What a monster job we undertook. I have the bad habit of underestimating how long these tasks take.
We pruned and transplanted our big Aloe arborescens, so of course, we can’t waste the cuttings so had to plant them in the ground to root.
The other huge thing we have to do is cut and bale enough grass with which to make compost. Another month or so and we will have enough for the year.
Spoil the women in your life with an outing to Random Harvest on their special day.
We will have a small gift for them to show our appreciation for their support over the years. What would Random Harvest be without all the plant loving women who visit us regularly?
You could spoil them with a delicious High Tea or Picnic in the garden.
Booking for the High Tea or Picnic is essential. Please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143
We are getting so many requests for assistance with food parcels it is getting really difficult to keep up. It is heart-breaking to know how many people are desperate for just the basics to survive.
Please could I once again ask you to assist with donations – no matter how small – it all helps, and I am quickly running out of money. Random Harvest put in R8000.00 this month to be able to complete 100 food parcels and 200 meal in a bag. It is hard for us to sustain alone, and we rely on your generosity to continue helping out.
The banking details are: Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.
The bird walk last month was really exciting with sightings of a few raptors including an Ovambo Sparrowhawk catching a Bronze Mannikin at the feeding table just in front of everyone.
They identified 47 bird species in July so the next ones should be exciting with many of the migratory birds returning.
Dates: Sat 13 August @ 07:30 for 08:00 start with André Marx
Sat 10 September @ 07:00 for 07:30 start with Lance Robinson
Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a breakfast buffet – a great way to start the weekend.
Booking is essential - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143
Unfortunately, Vaughan cannot make it to talk on Cycads but we are so lucky that Andrew Hankey of Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden will be giving us a talk and slide show on the highly endangered Albertina Sisulu Orchid.
Date: Wednesday 3rd August
Topic: Albertina Sisulu Orchid – by Andrew Hankey
This is a talk that should not be missed.
Date: Wednesday 7th September
Topic: Spring Bulbs – all you need to know about growing and caring for them – by Mike Viviers
Mike Viviers shares his knowledge on bulbous plants – their structure and how it relates to caring for them and growing them successfully.
I would appreciate it if you could bring a small donation of tinned food or other non-perishables as a donation towards our food parcel drive – it would really help and I would be eternally grateful.
We have sent most of our staff on this course which has helped enormously with their knowledge and confidence. All the basics are covered and gives a person a good grounding.
The next course is perfectly timed to boost your gardener’s skills and thereby help you to prepare your garden for spring.
Our new lady, Sarie, joined in with the last course and enjoyed it tremendously as she is starting her new garden.
Details for Lindsay Gray’s next courses are as follows:
DATES: Friday 9th September and Friday 28 October
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30
The cost of the course includes a set of notes for both the gardener and employer, a certificate, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival, as well as breakfast and lunch on the day.
TO BOOK or for more information including cost of the course contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or
Every family needs to unplug from technology and busyness from time to time and plug into family time. The most remarkable thing about staying in our cottages is that amidst all the chaos you will be in an atmosphere of love and calm.
Experience this beautiful farm and always cherish the memories and connections you made with loved ones. Join us for an amazing reset weekend filled with fun and enjoyment for the whole family
The 1st September is spring day. Why not celebrate it with a delicious picnic in the garden and enjoy the promise of warmer weather, birds singing and spring budding.
If you are working, you could celebrate spring day on the following weekend.
Booking is essential for picnic baskets. Please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143
I thought this month I would remind you of all the delicious homemade edibles we have in our shop. The jams are made from fruit grown on the farm, some of the raw honey is from our own beehives and other preserves are also homemade by our suppliers.
Frans, in our kitchen, bakes delicious big biscuits as well as making his ever-popular homemade fudge.
Remember to stock up on food for the birds – they are coming into breeding season and need to increase their energy for this busy time. Your reward will be the many birds and their babies in your garden.
Add a few creature sculptures to your garden beds to remind you of being out in the veld.
For our wholesale customers I would like to remind you that we have, for speed and convenience, Golf Cars to drive you around the nursery so that you can choose the plants you need and not waste time.
Did you know that we can organise deliveries to most destinations in South Africa? This is because have reliable transport companies working with us and will be able to deliver up to 4 tons with our own transport. We are expecting delivery of the truck in the next few weeks.
Chasmanthe floribunda subsp. ducketti - Cobra Lily
Beautiful winter flower bulb with tall, sword-shaped, light-green leaves arranged in a fan-shape. It grows well in summer rainfall areas although it occurs naturally in winter rainfall areas. The leaves die back in summer and start growing again in autumn. In winter, it bears spikes of numerous, narrow, tubular, bright lemon-yellow, oppositely arranged flowers which are pollinated by Sunbirds. Mix with deciduous Agapanthus sp. or Crocosmia sp. for a lovely effect of complementary plantings that give colour to the garden in winter and summer. Plant in sun or shade, in well-drained, compost-rich soils. Water well in winter.
Greyia sutherlandii – Natal Bottlebrush
This is a hardy, deciduous, drought resistant, rugged looking shrub or small tree with attractive round leaves that turn bright red in autumn. The tree is often still leafless when it starts to bear densely packed spikes of magnificent, brilliant red flowers at the tips of the branches from Aug. to Oct. When blooming en masse they are a sight never to be forgotten. The flowers are rich in nectar, which attracts sunbirds and insects to the garden. The dead leaves often persist on the tree and should be removed to gain the full benefit of the architecture and flowers. Makes a good container plant and a wonderful tree for a small garden. Plant in a sunny or semi-shade position, in well-drained soil. Thrives in rocky soils.
Cyrtanthus Hybrid ‘Venus’
This hardy, delicate looking, evergreen, clump-forming, bulbous plant has attractive, glossy, dark-green, narrow, strap-like leaves. In winter it bears umbels of scarlet tubular flowers that are carried on long stalks. The flowers attract masses of insects. It is a beautiful addition to any garden and makes a wonderful container subject. Plant as a border or even in a raised bed. It prefers semi-shade and sandy well-drained soil.
Pelargonium peltatum – Ivy-Leaved Pelargonium
Hardy, evergreen, rambling Pelargonium with smooth, fleshy leaves that have 5 points. The flowers are a beautiful pale mauve with darker streaks in the middle. They bloom prolifically in spring and summer, but bear flowers sporadically at other times. It is the host plant to the Geranium Blue butterfly. The rambling, zig-zag stems make it an ideal subject for hanging baskets, cascading over walls, as a groundcover or used as an edging plant in a bed or even supported as a climber. Prune to keep in shape. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun or semi-shade.
Crassula arborescens ‘Green’ - Money Plant
Hardy, evergreen, erect, succulent shrublet of which two subspecies are recognised. It has a tree-like appearance, with a single, light-brown to greyish-brown main stem, from which many small branches arise. The small, fleshy, dark-green leaves are slightly flattened and narrow. The tiny, honey-scented, creamy-white to pink flowers are carried in many rounded inflorescences from Apr. to Sept. The flowers attract a whole host of tiny insects which are the staple diet of lizards and frogs. It is beautiful planted in amongst rocks or in a container. Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil.
Carissa macrocarpa ‘Variegated Green carpet' - Amatungulu
Hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, dense, spiny, dwarf spreading shrublet. This particular variety has leathery, striking dark green and yellow variegated, glossy leaves. It has beautiful, quite large, scented, white flowers and large edible red fruits on and off throughout the year. It attracts butterflies and fruit-eating birds to the garden. This versatile plant can be used to cover large areas or clipped into an attractive small formal hedge. It also looks great in a container. Erect shoots should be clipped to keep the dwarf habit. Plant in shade, semi-shade or sun, in well-drained, well-composted soil.
Clivia miniata - Bush Lily
Hardy, evergreen, perennial with dark, strap-shaped leaves. It sends out side shoots to form quite large clumps. The beautiful, bright-orange, large, trumpet-shaped flowers are carried on long flowering stalks and borne, en masse, from Aug. to Oct. They are a sight to behold when in full bloom. Decorative, fleshy, red berries will persist on the plant until the next flowering season. Birds relish these berries. It makes an easy-to-maintain, gorgeous container plant, especially as it doesn’t mind if its roots are constricted. It is beautiful planted under trees in dappled or dark shade.
Buddleja auriculata - Eared Sagewood
Very hardy, evergreen shrub with a weeping habit and beautiful black-green glossy leaves that are white on the underside. In Jul. and Aug., it bears a profusion of large sprays of fragrant lilac and white flowers with orange centres. This beautiful plant attracts birds and butterflies to the garden. Plant as a specimen or use to create an excellent large screen. Prune after flowering to keep it in shape and to ensure a profusion of blooms next flowering season. Plant in sun or semi-shade.
Polygala myrtifolia - September Bush
Hardy, evergreen, large shrub with glossy green leaves. It bears abundant, mauve, pea-like flowers almost all year round with a flush in Sept., hence the name September Bush. It makes a decorative small tree if pruned into a standard and makes a beautiful floriferous screening plant. It can also be pruned into a formal hedge. Attracts Carpenter Bees to the garden. The seeds are relished by Laughing Doves and other seed-eating birds. Grows in sun or semi-shade but flowers best in full sun and makes an excellent container plant.
Dodonaea angustifolia -- Sand Olive
Very hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, fast-growing, much-branched shrub or small tree with attractive light-green, elongated leaves. It flowers from May to Sept. with insignificant greenish-white flowers. These are followed by attractive, inflated, winged, dark pink, papery seeds. This decorative garden shrub is an ideal, fast-growing plant for windbreaks and screening and is also used to stabilize sandy soil. It prunes well and makes an attractive formal hedge or can be trained into a single-stemmed, small tree. Needs little water and will do well in sun or semi-shade.
As it is time to maintain the grasses in our gardens, I thought I would repeat this garden tip article from a few years back.
Cutting back veld grasses – If you haven’t already done this, make sure to do so before mid-August. Cut them back to about 2cm above the soil level. Remove the thatch (dead leaves and debris) so that the new spring growth can sprout easily.
Preparing your lawn for spring – August is a good time to start preparing your lawn for spring.
1. Scarify by raking off dry winter “stubble” with a metal rake, and this will also break the long runners that have formed in places.
2. Water and aerate the soil. If it is a small lawn area use a garden fork spiked into the soil, but for large areas a metal spiked roller is best.
3. Broadcast an organic fertilizer (slow release 5:1:5), then apply lawn dressing or compost in a thin layer over the lawn. Random Harvest’s compost works very well for this.
4. Turn the metal rake onto its flat upper side or use a straight edge and scrape over the lawn to fill dents and dips in the lawn surface. This is to spread the compost / lawn dressing (I personally only use compost) out evenly over the lawn surface and fill the holes made by the spike roller. For really deep dents or dips, mix a 50/50 mix of river sand and fine lawn dressing. The river sand with fill the dips and the lawn dressing provides good growing medium for the grass to spread over.
5. If using our compost, scrape all the larger, left over bits together and put them in your flower beds.
6. Water well to let all the soil sink into and fill the dips and dents and help the grass to absorb nutrients from the soil.
I thought as it is almost spring, I would share some of the beautiful moments Jeff and I have had in the grassland and hope it encourages you to look at grasslands in winter with different eyes. The autumn colours are gorgeous.
The sun being lower in the sky and the light a bit lower enhance these colours.
The hairy seeds of the Blue Thatching Grass (Hyparrhenia tamba) that glisten in the sunlight are like tiny fairy lights in the grassland.
The autumn colours of the River Bushwillow (Combretum erythrophyllum) compliment the colours and complete the beautiful picture of the many autumn colours in the grassland.
The leaves of Cottonwool Grass (Imperata cylindrica) glow red against the sun.
The Papyrus in the dam has been hit by the cold and the leaves shine a light, bronze in the sunlight.
Who said the grasslands were dull and boring in winter?
The Guinea Fowl are also appreciating the grassland and are flocking here in big numbers. I am hoping we see lots of new babies this season.
The Egyptian Geese brought babies to the dam. Normally they are bad parents and when the predators come hunting, they make a lot of noise and do nothing else. This pair are quite good parents and keep their babies well hidden, so we haven’t had an opportunity to photograph them. Needless to say, I also have one of my staff posted there to help them protect their babies.
The Hamerkop has been enjoying perching in the sun at the dam. They are also enjoying foraging in the dam as the water is a lot lower, making it a lote asier to feed.
The Pied Kingfisher is also loving the lower level of the dam and is visiting almost every day. He has found himself a convenient perch from which to observe the life in the dam. It makes his efforts at hunting a meal a lot easier.
Jeffrey and I had a wonderful few moments observing a flock of Little Bee-eaters hunting in the Acacias along the fence. They were a joy to watch with their bright colours flitting around in the branches. As they are nomadic, we don’t see them as often as I would like.
A good thing about winter is that the trees are bare and offer opportunities to see birds that are normally cryptic. We have had some wonderful sightings of Cardinal Woodpeckers in the Acacias.
On the last bird walk the birders were lucky enough to see the Fairy Flycatcher before he leaves to head back to Lesotho. Once again, the bare branches of the Acacias afforded us a wonderful view of this tiny, unusual bird.
The Grey Hornbills are getting active again in the garden. It is always a joy to hear their gentle calls wafting around the garden. Talking of calls I was really pleased to hear the Brown-hooded Kingfisher calling although I couldn’t see him. He also has a wonderful melodious call.
Some of the cutest tiny birds in the garden are the Bronze Mannikins. They flock around the grasses eating the seeds. They are so cute and give us a lot of pleasure. I also love watching them visiting the bird feeding tree.
It’s not only the seedeaters feasting at the feeding table but the Grey Go-away bird and Glossy Starlings are also visiting more regularly, fattening up for the breeding season.
The world of plants can sometimes be weird and wonderful. A friend of mine brought me cuttings of this amazing plant Stapelia gettleffei. It makes one wonder about evolution and the niches these plants inhabit.
It’s not only the wonderful world of plants but insects as well. Look carefully into the centre of this picture of Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) and you will see a perfectly camouflaged bug. This is why it is so important to take time in nature and see all the wonderful adaptations and interactions that go on in the web of life around us and contemplate at this miraculous world we live in.
Another plant with beautiful markings is this Haemanthus deformis with its green tipped petals and green veins. Who said indigenous was drab and uninteresting?
The spring flowering annuals are out in all their glory. These wonderful glistening flowers of the Bokbaai Vygie (Doreanthus bellidiformis) are a smorgasbord for the bees.
What a feast for the eyes are the Namaqualand Daisies (Dimorphotheca sinuata) at this time of year.
The butterflies are enjoying the blooms of the Kalanchoe rotundifolia the Common Kalanchoe, although there is nothing common about this pretty succulent plant.
Looking forward to welcoming you here at Random Harvest to our beautiful space where you can relax and unwind while enjoying all the farm can offer you.
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