Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2018

Posted On: Monday, October 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Earlier this week I was sitting in the retail nursery. Surrounded by orange and yellow daisies catching the breeze that kissed my cheeks too – I could just as well have been sitting in Namaqualand, in the spring glory of flowers wherever I looked.

The energy of pollinating insects everywhere, flowers vying for attention from them with bright colours, bold petals, and irresistible scent seems to infect the air and my mind. My fingers itch to get into the soil and garden.

It has been unbearably hot – so a wide brimmed hat and frequent breaks from gardening are obligatory! I hope this October newsletter finds you sitting in the dappled shade of a tree, sipping on something cool and enjoying the busyness in the Spring garden around you.


In The Nursery


I’m sure you will agree that my staff have outdone themselves this Spring. The retail nursery is looking spectacular in a riot of indigenous colour and texture. October is Garden Day month, when all that have gardens are encouraged to enjoy them.

In preparation for a day of celebrating your garden, please don’t forget the birds, bees, butterflies and other wonderful creatures that are just as grateful for your indigenous garden. We have plenty of “gifts” for them in stock – you’ll be spoilt for choice in finding something to delight them.

We had a magical moment in the nursery after an unexpected shower. Everything sparkled – looking shiny and new. Not much tops the glistening raindrops on leaves and flowers.

In The Shop

Our shop is tiny, but I am always gratified at how people love to come and browse for those unusual little gifts and spoils for themselves, family and friends. This month we have a few items we’d like to highlight for you:


Bird Food and Feeders


In our ever growing urban environment, supplementary feeding is becoming almost essential to keep birds sustained through the leaner months of winter and early spring.

Most natural fruit is still green, and seeds for seed eaters are not yet plentiful either. We have so many products for those that love to feed the birds – come and have a look.

Electronic Voucher

If you don’t have the time to visit us and would like to give a gift of plants to a friend we are now able to send you an electronic gift voucher.

Please speak to David on 072-562-3396 to make arrangements.


We recently had a visit from the horticultural students from UNISA Florida Campus to encourage them to grow only indigenous plants. I think we really inspired them.

Knowledge, I believe needs to be shared to realise its value, and a true appreciation for our botanical heritage can only be gained by knowing more about it.


Bird Walks


Led by either Andre Marx or Lia Steen

Saturday 20th October
Saturday, 17th November.

Start time: 6h30 for 07h00 sharp.
Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (details on our website listing of the events)

Booking is essential please call reception on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected].

These spring Bird Walks are always so exciting with the migrant species arriving for our summer.

Very often we spot shy species not seen at other times of the year, simply because they are so busy with “silly season” – gathering food and finding mates – that they are almost oblivious to us birders eager to see them.

This is a good time to tick off many species on our bird list (Hyperlink?). Free bird lists are available from reception.

Bring walking shoes, sunscreen, a hat and binoculars.

Children 12 years and over welcome.

Monthly Coffee Morning – Heritage Gardening

Wednesday, 3 October, 2018
Time: 10h30 to 12h00
Cost: Free of charge

South African indigenous plants are an intrinsic part of our heritage. Whether folklore, traditional medicine, superstition or just for their beauty and memories stirred of beautiful wild places, indigenous plants hold deep significance to most South African people. Join us and members of our staff as we spend the morning sharing this wonderful botanical heritage with each other.


Monthly Coffee Morning – Early flowering Grassland Walk


Wednesday, 7th November, 2018
09h00 – 11h30

Meet at the Random Harvest Grassland – a special walk through the grassland. We’ll talk about creating a grassland / meadow garden, including early flowering species. To avoid most of the heat, we’ll start at 09h00 instead of 10h30. Lifts will be available from the designated parking area down into the grassland, and back again.

Special Sunday Coffee morning on Garden Day - Bumper Garden Tour of Random Harvest’s beautiful indigenous gardens.
Sunday, 21 October 2018
Time: 09h00 – 11h00
Cost: Free (we just ask that you support the tea garden and / or nursery afterwards)
While drinking tea or coffee we will have a short question and answer session on Indigenous Gardening.

Then a Random Harvest Garden walk. Random Harvest staff will lead you on an informed ramble through their beautiful spring gardens. Come and find out what makes these indigenous gardens literally burst with life and beauty.

A note on Garden Day (Sunday, 21 October, 2018)

From the Garden Day Team: “There’s really nothing like the joy of gardening. Connecting to nature, the pride of growing your own plants, flowers, food and of course, the amazing health benefits. It’s also well documented that gardens, no matter how big or small, have the potential to bring people and communities together, which is why on Sunday 21 October the call to action for South Africa’s annual Garden Day is to down tools, invite neighbours, friends and family round to celebrate your garden together.”

Enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Make flower crowns for your guests. What you do on Garden Day (Sunday 21 October) is completely up to you but it’s a great opportunity to get together and celebrate your garden. For more ideas and Garden Day inspiration, visit www.gardenday.co.za”

Course topic: Domestic Gardener Training
Date: Friday, 12 October, 2018
Time: 08h30 – 15h45

Course topic: Easy Steps to Drawing a Plan/Sketching your Ideas
Date: Saturday, 13 October, 2018
Time: 08h30 – 16h00
Step-by-step course for those who have some design knowledge and would like to learn how to put their ideas on paper, to accurately quantify the plants and hard landscaping. The sketching part of the course is loads of fun! No previous drawing experience necessary.

Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for further details, cost and bookings.

Bulb Sale for the Highveld Bulb Society

Date: Saturday 3 November 2018
Time: 09h00 – 16h00

Random Harvest Nursery hosts this annual sale where members of the Highveld Bulb Society sell the plants they have grown at home.

Part of the proceeds goes to the Society

WOSA4 (Wild Orchids of SA) Conference at Gooderson’s, Drakensberg Gardens.
Friday, 25 to Sunday, 27 January, 2019
Wild Orchids Southern Africa (WOSA) will be holding their WOSA4 Conference at the Gooderson’s Drakensberg Gardens, from 25 to 27 January 2019.

Details and registration forms are available on www.wildorchids.co.za. If you are a lover of wild orchids and the floral kingdom you must not miss this annual event.
The conference takes up the whole of Saturday and hosts many interesting lectures.

Field trips are organised on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, close to the venue and will be coordinated in the programme closer to the date of the Conference.


Plants Looking Good


Pelargonium quercifolium “Royal Oak” – Although it’s flowers are gorgeous, this evergreen, hardy little bedding plant has fragrant, maroon-veined leaves that are just as decorative as its flowers. It makes a great container plant too. Plant in sun or semi-shade, and take care to plant them in well-drained soil.

Scilla natalensis (Blue Squill) – We anticipate the blooming of this exquisite, deciduous bulb each spring. The long stalks of blue, star-like little flowers create a real “wow” factor in the garden, and the bold leaves add a strong sculptural element to where they are placed. They require full sun to flower their best, but can tolerate a little dappled shade for part of the day.

Cryptocarya transvaalensis (Mountain Wild-Quince) – This beautiful hardy, evergreen tree with glossy green leaves makes an excellent large container subject. It can become a large (up to 12m) tree, when planted in the open ground, but remains shorter if planted in full sun. It will attract birds to the garden with its fleshy fruit.

Anchusa capensis(Cape Forget-me-not) – This delightful, semi-hardy plant is not only beautiful to look at, but alive with the insects that its spikes of brilliant blue flowers attract to the garden. It will flower its best in a sunny position, but can tolerate quite a bit of shade for part of the day.

Pelargonium salmoneum(Salmon Pelargonium) – One cannot help but be cheerful with these Pelargonium flowers brightening up any space they are planted in. This extremely drought hardy, semi-succulent Pelargonium is at its best at this time of year, and does well in containers as well as in the garden. It requires pruning annually in late summer, or at least every second year.

Dovyalis caffra (Wild Apricot) - One of our most celebrated indigenous fruit trees – the Wild Apricot is a versatile and useful addition to the garden.

It makes a great inclusion in a security hedge, or a wildlife garden bush clump. It attracts both birds and insects to the garden.

Female plants bear sour but delicious fruit that is rich in vitamin C. Plant this small thorny tree or shrub in full sun or semi-shade. As you can see from the half eaten fruit in the picture, birds relish the fruit as well


Unusual plant

Strelitzia juncea(Crane flower) – If you are looking for a striking feature plant for full sun, or semi shade then look no further. This Strelitzia, with its brilliant orange and blue flowers and long spiked leaves (with no leaf blade) makes a dramatic statement as part of a flower bed or as a feature on its own. Sunbirds and other nectar-eating birds are attracted to the flowers.



15% off

Calpurnia aurea must be one of my favourite trees for a small garden. It is delicate looking with a beautiful shape, when pruned up nicely. The sprays of rich yellow flowers contrast beautifully with the bright green foliage. The light shade it casts allows for a wide range of bedding plants to be grown underneath it. Plant in sun or semi-shade.

For a breath-taking Spring display, plant the Copper Vygie (Malephora purpurea-crocea) in full sun. It will reward you and all the hungry pollinating insects with its happy looking flowers.




With the recent heatwave experienced here in Gauteng, I am sure that many of you are willing the rain to come as soon as possible. This month we focus on managing rainwater in the garden that is not harvested or stored in rainwater tanks, ponds or dams.

This is done through sculpting soil to create berms and swales or dips within the garden which slow rainwater down, allowing it to spread out and soak into the thirsty ground.

A swale is a very shallow (sometimes as little as a few cm deep) dip or depression that is dug in line with the natural contours of the garden. The purpose of this is to obstruct rainwater runoff for just long enough to let it slow down and soak into the ground. Usually the width of the swale or pooling area between berms is wider for very gentle gradients and much narrower on steeper slopes.

A berm is a tiny “wall” or mound on the downward side of the swale against which water can dam up. It is low, (only a centimetre or so high in lawned areas) so that only water that can be soaked up by the ground fairly rapidly is retained by it.

Assess the slope of your property or area that you want to create berms and swales on. Study where the contours run, so that you can effectively create barriers to slow the water runoff down.

Pronounced berms can be planted up with plants that have fine roots with good soil binding properties. Indigenous Veld Grasses and many grassland plants have ideal root systems for this..

On The Farm

Spring is definitely here! Everything is buzzing, blooming and busy. I am having the time of my life watching all this activity.

I loved this picture of the Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) with its silver stems and lacy young leaves against the sky. This picture was taken at the beginning of the month – the tree is now in full leaf and casting welcome shade.

All the Ochnas are also in full bloom. It is coming close to the time when I have to try and beat the birds to the seeds.

Polygala fruticosa ‘Petite” is just a mass of flowers and looking amazing.

I always wonder why people want to go and see the Cherry blossoms when we have our beautiful Wild Pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) on our doorstep. The flowers are just as beautiful and last for a much longer time.

The Coral Trees are just amazing at the moment. The unusual pink one was particularly beautiful this spring.

I always look forward to the Erythrina acanthocarpa (Tamboekie Thorn) blooming. These red and yellow flowers are quite spectacular and appear out of dry sticks – a new miracle each spring.

Not only are the flowers of Erythrina beautiful but they also offer a rich bounty of nectar for the birds and insects. They are always bustling with life including the nectar feeders and all manner of birds that are on the sipping nectar.

I loved this picture of a Go-away Bird availing himself of the feast.

You do realise that attracting so many birds is a double-edged sword.

The birds are eating all the young fruits on our fruit trees.

We have not had fruit for 3 years as the birds beat us hollow to them. This year in the hopes of thwarting them I found holographic tape to dissuade them. Now all the fruit trees look like Christmas tree with sparkling lights in the crown as the breeze moves the tape around. I am holding thumbs as it seems to be working well.

Of course this is costing me money as more and more fruit eaters are coming to the feeding station and it is difficult to keep enough food for them.

I love it when I hear the fluting calls of the Red Winged Starlings as they come closer and closer to the feeding station. This pair are regular visitors.

I was amazed to see the Speckled Mouse bird feeding on the fruits of Euphorbia ingens. This is a first for me.

I am not too happy as the Red-knobbed Coot is back breeding on the dam. Although I love seeing them, they are so aggressive and chase the other birds. I miss the Moorhens which are the first birds they get rid of.

All the flowers are buzzing with insects, especially bees.

If you look closely you will see the pollen sacks on their legs. The colour differs depending on which flower they visited.

I think bees get bad press. There have only been about 2 bee stings over the 28 years the nursery has been here. If you think of the number of people here at Random Harvest and the number of visitors, it shows just how innocuous bees can be if left alone. We only had one other incident when the tractor rode over a bee hive in the ground …… twice!

Jeffrey took a few beautiful pictures which I would like to share with you.

I love this saying that was recently on Facebook – “If a bee lands on you, instead of panicking, appreciate the possibility that you got confused for a flower.”

The butterflies are also out in force. I saw a beautiful Green Streaked Swallowtail but wasn’t quick enough to get a picture. Jeff did manage to get some beautiful pictures.

The Cotula sericea are in full flower. This is a tough groundcover that blooms almost all year round.

There have been clouds of butterflies around the Cape Dandelions (Arctotheca calendula).

I have been spending time in the grassland to keep an eye on what is growing.

I saw, for the first time, these delicate little Moraea thompsonii. I didn’t realise they only open in the afternoon and also bloom in succession along the stem. When I called Jeff and Heather to see them I caught this picture of the ‘bottoms up’ looking for emerging plants.

They found Sutera aurantiaca, Ledebouri ovatifolia and a Tulbaghia species already up. The Hypoxis and Vernonia species are just starting to emerge.

I am hoping that by the time we do our grassland walk in November it will look like a flower meadow.

We were fortunate to get large orders from the Cape and Namibia. We loaded the trucks out on the road and packed the plants there for quick loading. I had to share this picture with you as it looked like Namaqualand in bloom.

A customer shared this picture of Lady bugs emerging from the seed head of Gomphocarpus sp.

She mentioned that there were about 12 in the seed head and these were the last 2 to leave.

I built these boxes for my Mom to plant her artichokes in. She planted them with other companion plants. As well as looking pretty they are really healthy and producing lots of yummy artichokes.

As I was on my way to the office I saw this beautiful site of the sunrise just before the shower of rain we had. It looked like a painting. Needless to say I went to the office with a song in my heart.

Happy Spring Gardening.


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email [email protected]

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