Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
March has given way to April in a riot of indigenous colour.
Wherever I look there are beautiful blooms, autumn leaves and butterflies and other beautiful insects.
With the wonderful rain we’ve had, the indigenous plants are flourishing and the dam is amazing.
Although the birds are not celebrating the coming of dawn with quite so much vigour, the early hours of the day are nonetheless, breathtakingly beautiful at Random Harvest.
The dew has been heavy, shining like jewels sprinkled over the grassland and the crispness in the air is so energising. What a way to start the day.
Wherever this newsletter finds you, and at whatever time of the day, I hope you enjoy your read.
In The Nursery
Grab your gardening tools and gloves, as there is so much on offer at Random Harvest Nursery this month, you’re completely spoiled for choice! Every time I wander through the retail I fall in love with the indigenous plants all over again.
Most of all, it is gratifying to see the birds and pollinating insects, apparently oblivious to the fact that these plants are set out for humans to buy. They are so busy gathering pollen and nectar and busying about their lives that they liven up the nursery, even when there is not a soul around.
Gardening for Birds Inspiration Garden
We have completed our small, manicured, bird friendly inspiration garden. Please do have a look when you are here next.
A pamphlet with more information on gardening for birds and this particular garden is available at reception.
Please just ask for your free copy. Alternatively, you can read about gardening for birds on our website after the 12th of April.
Our wholesale team have been extremely busy this month, with the SA Nurserymen’s Association show and a few large orders being collected for delivery to Bloemfontein and Namibia.
The team built this beautiful stand at the SANA show.
Indigenous plants have not always been so in vogue, so it is truly exciting to see landscapers placing increasing value on using indigenous plants in their installations. These plants are not only beautiful, but support the biodiversity around them that is so important for the health and survival of an environment.
We have refurbished our meeting venue and it is looking amazing. It is perfect for small break-away meetings, conferences or training sessions. We have Wi-Fi, a data projector and the best open air tea garden and tea time treats for when the brainstorming gets a bit intense and a break is sorely needed.
For more information, please contact our reception.
This artist recently stayed in Wild Olive – one of our peaceful, cosy cottages.
For weeks she had been battling to finish a special piece for a friend.
By staying at Random Harvest for 2 nights, away from all the distractions of life, she managed to complete it.
Do you feel like you need to “get away from it all” for a couple of days? Consider a midweek stay at Random Harvest Country Cottages. You can view availability and book here
Thank you so much to all of you that have taken the time to leave us the most amazing photographs, ratings and compliments on our Google Business Pages. We are so grateful, as it is what persuades many new customers to visit our beloved Random Harvest.
Please note that there are two pages – one for Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery and one for Random Harvest Country Cottages.
Easter Eco Treasure Hunt
Dates: 24th of March to the 15th of April.
Times: 8am – 5pm
Cost: No cost – we just ask that your support our nursery and tea garden.
For more information: Call our reception on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]
Calling all children…. come and test your treasure finding skills with our Eco Treasure Hunt this holiday season! A set of 9 items have been included in our Nature Scavenger Hunt. Find 5 or more of them to claim your prize from reception.
Gardening Courses by Lindsay Gray
For bookings, cost and any further information you may need for the following courses please contact
Lindsay on [email protected]; Cel : 082 44 99 237
Domestic Gardeners course
Friday 20th April 08h30 - 15h45
Domestic Gardeners Course
These courses upskill and provide your gardeners with the confidence to maintain your garden and help create interesting plantings.
Saturday 21st April : Time: 08h30 - 12h30
Easy Steps to Planting your Garden
Time: 08h30 - 12h30
Gardeners are often nervous about choosing and placing plants. This workshop will guide you through the process of choosing plants wisely in terms of the role they play, colour of flowers and foliage, texture, how to combine them to create interest and – most importantly – the wildlife they will attract to your garden
Easy Steps to Maintaining your Garden
Time: 13h30 - 16h30
In this workshop we discuss at length the six most critical aspects of caring for your garden – compost, mulching, understanding fertilisers, natural pest control, pruning and lawn care.
Bird walks with Andre Marx and Lia Steen
Dates: 21st April and 12th May : Time: 07h00 for 07h30
RSVP: [email protected] or call 082 553 0598 to book your spot as soon as possible as these walks book up so fast.
Bring: Binoculars, Walking shoes, A hat and sunscreen
Cost: R155.00 including a buffet breakfast
Join our regular bird walk with either Andre Marx or Lia Steen to discover some of the over 160 delightful South African Bird Species that share this farm with us. This is a wonderful time of year to go birding, as there are so many species to be seen.
Talk on Grasslands of the Witwatersrand - by Richard Gill
21st April at 14h00
Followed by a walk around the grasslands of the farm.
R50 per person including tea/coffee and cake. This event is hosted by the Highveld bulb society and all the funds are donated to them
RSVP: [email protected] or call 082 553 0598
In the Shop
Mother’s day is just around the corner, so have a look at our shop goodies for some lovely gifts. Or if you can’t decide, a Random Harvest gift voucher is always the perfect gift!
Plants Looking Good
Duvernoia aconitiflora - Lemon Pistol Bush (E); Geelpistoolbos (A)
This fast growing, hardy shrub grows in sun or semi-shade. It makes a wonderful screening plant for a smaller garden.
The beautiful white flowers are borne almost all year round and attract many tiny pollinating insects to the garden
Hibiscus pedunculatus - Forest Pink Hibiscus (E); Wildestokroos (A)
Looking for a pretty small to medium sized shrub with beautiful flowers for a shady part of your garden?
Look no further - this beautiful little Hibiscus is the answer.
Prune to keep in shape and to the size you want.
Hypoestes aristata ‘Little Pink’ - Pink Ribbon Bush (E); Pienk Lintbos (A)
Another lovely flowering plant for shade and semi-shade.
It attracts butterflies to the garden.
Remember to cut it back severely after flowering to ensure a mass of flowers next autumn.
Plectranthus species - Spurflower
I am very fortunate that Lindsay Gray and Margaret O’Carrol remembered how plant mad I am and brought me cuttings of these two Plectranthus hybrids that popped up in their gardens.
I have named them Plectranthus Lindsay and P. Margaret.
Aren’t they beautiful?
Once again lovely flowering plants for those shady spots in your garden.
Melinis nerviglumis - Bristle Leaved Red Top (E); Steekblaarblinkgras (A)
What would the newsletter be without a mention of a grass? This Melinus has graceful, greyish foliage which make a statement in the garden themselves.
Then it bears beautiful heads of dense pink seeds. It is a smaller grass and suitable for inter-planting with bulbs and wildflowers.
Turraea obtusifolia - Small Honeysuckle Tree (E); Kleinkamperfoelieboom (A)
The flowers of this scrambling shrub are so glowing white that they create a halo effect in a photograph.
They are followed by decorative, round seed pods that split to reveal red seeds. It is evergreen and grows in sun or shade.
It can grow into a small tree if planted in the sun. It is a little slow growing but flowers from an early age.
Maytenus undata - Koko Tree (E); Kokoboom (A)
This beautiful evergreen tree is a little slow growing but very rewarding.
It is one of our local species.
If you are interested in gardening for wildlife this tree is a must have.
I had to include a picture of the beautiful fruits which attract birds.
It is a very variable species so remember the smaller the leaves the hardier the tree is.
It also makes a beautiful container plant.
Tecomaria capensis ‘Red’ Cape-honeysuckle (E); Kaapse kanferfoelie (A)
The cape Honeysuckles are looking particularly beautiful and colourful at the moment. They are a boon to the wildlife at this time of the year.
Remember to keep them in shape and flowering well with regular pruning.
Plants On Special
This month’s special at 15% discount are shade loving plants.
Chlorophytum modestum - Small Chlorophytum (E)
A pretty flat ground cover for shade or semi-shade with spikes of white flowers that attract insects.
It looks pretty as a container plant or at the base of containers.
Dracaena aletriformis Large-leaved Dragon Tree (E); Grootblaardrakeboom (A)
A real statement plant for shady areas.
With its broad leaves and white stem, it makes a wonderful form and container plant.
On The Farm
After the wonderful rain we had in March the dam is full and looking beautiful. It is at times like this that I am so chuffed that we do so much to save water.
The furrows we made to take the water off the roofs around the nursery to the dam are working amazingly. You can see from this picture just how much water they poured into the dam.
Another water saving technique that we instituted is also working fantastically. It is the sump we built to catch the runoff from the nursery. The water fills the sump and we either pump it into the irrigation dam or let it overflow to the dam at the bottom for the birds.
I love to watch this.
The birds have been busy and a lot less vocal. The dawn chorus is waking me up a little later now with the shortening days. I was happy to have heard a Paradise Flycatcher this morning I thought they had already left us to go on their long journey north.
Talking of long journeys, the swallows are fattening up and preening themselves carefully in preparation for their even longer journey north. I will be sad to see them go. I always find them such joyful birds as they swoop around.
My mom and I have no chance with the fruit. Even the Southern Masked Weaver have started eating the fruit. Here he is munching on a pear.
I am so frustrated the European Bee-eater (I think) are sitting on the electricity wires just outside the gate. I keep calling them ‘come to Random Harvest’ but they don’t want oblige me.
I think I will have to put up some poles with a wire stretched between them and try and make them a sand cliff face in the hopes that they come and stay resident here at Random Harvest.
I am not sure what this Green Hoopoe was doing investigating the Weavers nest. I checked and baby birds are not one of their food sources so it can only be that a juicy insect or lizard was hiding in the tangled grass of the nest.
The birds have been quite busy at the dam.
I am so pleased that at least one Egyptian Goose baby has survived. They are not blessed with the best of parents and so it is seldom that many of the babies survive. I saw just how intimidated the parents were by the Red-knobbed Coot.
The Coots are much better parents and have brought up 2 clutches of babies this season.
I am sure they have come to live at Random Harvest because of the Vallisneria spiralis (Eel Grass) I put in the dam as they feed on plant material. In this picture you can clearly see him eating the Eel Grass.
There has to be quite a lot of fish in the dam as the Cormorants are there every day. The Kingfishers visit regularly, and along with the many Herons around the dam, there has to be a reliable food source for them.
I am sure that it is the Eel Grass that helps the fish breed as it creates a safe habitat for the fish fry.
This is the time of the year the Stone Chats become very busy and very visible. These little birds in their neat little colours are always a joy.
I loved this picture of the Yellow Fronted canary foraging in the wet grass that was sparkling like diamonds.
There have been a few interesting insect sights this month. I am not sure what this creature is that is being tended by the ants. This makes me think it may be a Scale insect or a type of Aphid. I have sent the picture to a few experts and hope to have some more information soon.
It was interesting watching the larvae of the Rhino beetles that were exposed in the compost hastily burying themselves before they became a juicy meal for one of the many bird species that patrol the compost heaps for just such an opportunity.
If you do see these big fat worms in the compost remember they are not cut worms and I think should be left alone to either, make a handy meal for the birds, or develop into the glossy beautiful Rhino Beetle.
These weird little insects are the nymphs of those big scary looking, colourful locusts.
I was amazed to see that they were only eating the leaves of the Gomphocarpus fruticosus (Milk Weed) and wondered why.
I was told by Peter, the Bee Hotel man, that they stored the poisons from the milkweed in order to be able to use it as adults in the foam that they exude to deter any creatures that may want to eat them.
It is amazing how quickly the grassland changes at this time of year. The grasses are now tall and full of seeds. They are also turning to their beautiful autumn colours. If one just took the time to look carefully at them, you will see all the beautiful colours.
I am amazed that there are still some flowers in amongst the grasses such as this yellow Berkheya species.
The Gladiolus crassifolius are also colonising the grassland, much to my delight.
The logs I laid along the road in the grassland to prevent the tractors driving on the grassland are gently breaking down. I love the bracket fungi that grow on the wood. It is always a pleasure to watch the natural processes taking place.
The bees are also thriving in their hives in the grassland. We are lucky enough to have some honey from them.
The grass is now really thick and long in the area. We are busy cutting and baling on our neighbours properties. We use this grass to make our lovely compost. I have a real ‘thing’ about compost and just love the heaps and all the life around them.
We need to do this before the winter fires and this valuable resource goes up in smoke.
We were lucky to host a group of horticultural students this month.
I love talking to them in the hopes of converting them to only plant indigenous when they go about their chosen profession.
We have two beautiful new heifer calves on the farm. They are so dainty and with their big brown eyes are irresistible.
Jonathan managed to get another 2 beautiful, bronze turkeys for my mom. Hopefully we soon have a flock of these colourful birds.
I decided to give up growing Rhus pentherii (Common Crowberry (E); Gewone Kraaibessie (A) as it was a bit boring.
Just to show me how wrong I can be it started bearing these beautiful bunches of bright red seeds, which, not only look beautiful but the birds love them as well. I suppose I will have to reverse my decision.
In closing I had to share this picture of my little bit of heaven.
Between the grassland, the compost heaps and the beautiful sky, who could wish to be anywhere else.
No wonder I hardly ever leave the farm – I am truly blessed.
Enjoy this wonderful crisp weather.
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