Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2018

Posted On: Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous enthusiast,

The rain was very welcome and has transformed the farm.   The morning after the rain was so beautiful - the nursery and garden magical with the droplets everywhere, glistening in the sunrise.

The whole farm was misty and dreamy and once more I felt like the luckiest person in the world to live on this beautiful place.

My bonus is that the Paradise Flycatchers were back early this year.  

The garden is now filled with their cheerful calls.

In The Nursery

We’ve been so fortunate to have had some earlier rain this spring – as it has helped to keep the plants in the retail looking fabulous.

Looking back at photographs throughout the year, it is gratifying to see how there is something beautiful in every month of the year.

Indigenous plants are amazing! And it’s not all just about their pretty petaled faces. Flowers and berries of indigenous plants are invaluable as food for the creatures that share the garden with us.

A Christmas for the birds

It seems as if the birds are eagerly awaiting Christmas time again.

Perhaps they know that this year, we will once again be putting on a banquet for them.

This theme has become quite an establishment here, and on popular demand, we will repeat it this year.

The birds find our tasty decorations irresistible, and the colourful Red Bishop birds and Masked Weaver birds become living decorations in the tree too.

But when Christmas is over and the tree has to come down, we make sure that there is still enough natural food around for them.

You can try some of our bird friendly plants in your own gardens.

Albertina Sisulu orchid and crowdfunding

Help to protect the Sugarbush Ridge through this amazing initiative.

Random Harvest has donated R5000.00 and would like to ask you to donate whatever you can afford, “To save the Black Eagles of Roodekrans and the unique Albertina Sisulu Orchid, we need to regulate our collective human footprint on the Sugarbush Ridge Ecosystem.

To achieve this is in such a highly urbanized and densely populated area we all have to work together as a community, so that we can enjoy and appreciate this valuable natural asset without destroying it in the process.

Read more about this crowdfunding initiative

In The Shop

Our “Christmas for The Birds” theme means that our little shop will be bursting with gift ideas for garden enthusiasts that love birds.

For the person that has everything – gift them with something for the birds.

We are happy to make up a bird gardening hamper too.

We not only have gifts for bird lovers, but a range of new items that have just arrived – come and browse for something special.

Gift vouchers are always a winner too.

In The Tea Garden

Celebrations and special events are so much more memorable in a beautiful environment. Book a High Tea with us for that special birthday or get together with friends and family.

Contact our events manager on [email protected] or 011 957 5356 for more information or to make a booking.


Monthly Coffee mornings.
NB Please note change of topic for November
On inspection of the grassland, I have decided to do the grassland walk in December instead of November. I believe that the walk will be much more enjoyable if done with a greater variety of species in flower. 

November’s talk will be as follows:

Wednesday, 7th November 2018
Topic: A conversation about Herbs and Herb Gardening
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Cost: Free – we just ask that you support our nursery and / or tea garden while you are here.
We’re going to chat over coffee about growing, drying and preserving herbs. We’ll also talk about growing them in containers, their culinary uses and sharing our interesting herb stories.

Wednesday, 5th December 2018
Topic: Summer flowering plants in our grassland.
Time: 09h00 – 11h30 (note early start to avoid the heat of the day)
Cost: Free – we just ask that you support our nursery and / or tea garden while you are here.

Meet at the Random Harvest Grassland for a special walk through the grassland.

We’ll talk about creating a grassland / meadow garden, and the species that are flowering.

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.

Bird Walks

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

Date: Saturday, 17th November. This is the last Saturday bird walk for 2018.

This walk will be led by Andre Marx

This promises to be as exciting as they always are, with so many migrant species having returned to South Africa.

We have heard and spotted the Diedricks Cuckoo, Red Chested Cuckoo and Paradise Flycatcher – all having returned for our summer. This is a good time to tick off many species on our bird list.

Free bird lists are available from reception.Bring walking shoes, sunscreen, a hat and binoculars.

Date: Wednesday, 19th December (midweek)
Start time: 6h30 for 07h00 sharp.
Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (details on our website listing of the events)

Lia Steen will take this bird walk. This is a great holiday activity to include children (12 years and older) with a parent. It is a wonderful way to spend a morning and get the youngsters out in nature.

Date: Saturday, 29th December
Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 sharp.

Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (details on our website listing of the events)

Come along and share a morning of bird watching in the veld and garden with Andre Marx.

Lindsay Gray Courses

Please contact Lindsay if you are interested in any of the following courses.

November Friday, 16 Nov
Sat, 17 Nov
08h30 - 15h45
08h30 - 12h30
13h30 - 16h30
Domestic Gardener Training
Easy Steps to Planting your Garden
Easy Steps to Drawing a Plan

Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for further
Details and to book your place.

Remember WOSA Conference

Wild Orchids Southern Africa ... WOSA will be holding their WOSA4 Conference at the Gooderson’s Drakensberg Gardens 25-27 January 2019, details 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.

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.

Look forward to meeting you there if you can make it.Bill Mincher 082 871 3152


If you are looking to get a short break, or have friends or family looking for a place to stay near Johannesburg, our November and December Mid-Week Special may be just the thing for you.

Stay from Sunday to Thursday in one of our 8 lovely cottages, and receive a 15% discount for one night, and a 20% discount on a stay of two or more nights.

To take advantage of this irresistible offer, please call David or Paul on 072 562 3396 or email [email protected]. This special applies only to bookings directly made with Random Harvest.

Summer is a magical time on the farm, and the cottages are the perfect choice for people who love being in nature. Read more about this on our latest blog for the cottages

In The Garden

Remember to walk through your garden and remove the dead flower heads. Believe it or not plants don’t make flowers for our pleasure.  

They are borne to produce seeds, so if you remove the flowers before the seeds are formed the plant will produce more flowers. This extends the flowering period and is a bonus for the insects.

Also check climbers and train them onto trellises or neaten up the tendrils and shoots that they send out with great enthusiasm at this time of year. 

If they are not full of buds, nip off some of the ends of the shoots to encourage a denser look, and to create more flowering points for the next season.

Plants Looking Good

Chironia linoides- Cape Centaury (E); Bitterwortel (A)

A delightful, evergreen, semi-succulent little shrub, with linear, blue-green leaves. 

From December to February, it bears so many satiny, bright pink flowers with centrally-massed, yellow stamens that one cannot see the leaves. 

Plant in full sun and give it plenty of water, especially in Summer.

Albuca shawii - Small Yellow Albuca (E); Lanternblom (A)

This hardy, deciduous bulb makes a very interesting seasonal container plant or part of a sparse grassland. The thin, sticky leaves have a faint smell of liquorice when crushed, and the flowering spikes bear a spray of beautiful, nodding, delicately-scented yellow and green flowers from September to February. They prefer full sun but can take light semi-shade. Plant in well-drained, loamy soil and do not over-water. If planting in a grassland, make sure that they are not swamped by too many tall grasses.

Salvia “Beautiful Blue” - Hybrid Wild Sage (E)

An attractive, easy to grow plant that is very hardy, evergreen, and will do well in full sun or semi-shade.

It has aromatic, bright-green leaves and bears clusters of sky-blue, funnel-shaped flowers from June to December.

It is a good cut flower and will attract pollinating insects and Sunbirds to the garden.

Thunbergia gibsonii

An outstanding climber that has gorgeously luminous orange flowers all year round.

Plant in sun or semi-shade and water well.

Thunbergia natalensis - Dwarf Thunbergia (E); Dwergthunbergia (A)

This hardy, deciduous, herbaceous shrublet is a particularly useful size for planting under trees and shrubs.

It has large, attractive, heart-shaped leaves, and from October to March, beautiful, sky-blue, trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow centres.

Plant in well-drained soil in shady or semi-shade areas of the garden for a splash of colour under trees.

Hibiscus pedunculatus - Forest Pink Hibiscus (E); Wildestokroos (A)

Hardy, evergreen, small to medium-sized shrub whose delicate, dainty look belies the fact that it is hardy and easy to grow.

It has delightful, large, pale pink, hibiscus-like flowers that attract insects with their copious pollen.

It is also a host plant to the Charaxes butterfly.

A really useful shrub for those difficult area that are sometimes sunny and sometimes shady.

Carissa macrocarpa ‘Green carpet' - Amatungulu (E); Dwerg Natalpruim (A)

This useful plant can be used to cover large areas or can be clipped into an attractive small formal hedge.

It also looks great in a container. Its leathery, dark-green, glossy leaves makes it quite decorative.

In addition, it has beautiful, quite large, scented, white flowers and large edible red fruits on and off throughout the year.

Plant in shade, semi-shade or sun, in well-drained, well-composted soil.

Plants On Special This Month – Less 15%

Zanthoxylum capense - Small Knobwood (E); Kleinperdepram (A)

This is a small, evergreen tree with strongly citrus smelling leaves and thorny branches and stems.

These thorns get beautiful markings as they become mature.

It is a host plant to the Citrus Swallow Tail Butterfly.

Plant in sun or semi-shade, on its own or as part of a large screen.

Hermannia pinnata- Orange Hermannia (E); Poproos (A)

If you are looking for a plant for rockeries, herbaceous borders or tumbling over the edges of containers and retaining walls then this is the choice for you.

It also makes a gorgeous hanging basket, with its finely textured, light green foliage and masses of beautiful, nodding, apricot-coloured, bell-like flowers that are carried on relatively long stalks above the plant in early summer.

Unusually for a groundcover, the flowers are wonderfully fragrant. Grows best in full sun or light shade in well-drained soil.

On The Farm

It is amazing what a bit of rain can do. The grass was turning green even while it was still raining. I had to take Jeffrey with me to make sure I wasn’t imagining things – he was also amazed as it was exactly the case.

The Birds are very busy. The Hamerkop has found paradise. They have their chicks in the nest and their food in the waterlily ponds.

I could not believe that this big bird is able to walk on the waterlily leaves which he patrols for snails. I didn’t know that they even ate snails.

They and the cormorants at the dam have so depleted the fish stocks in all the ponds that I had to go and buy more fish to stock the dams with. Expensive pets.

The Egyptian Goose has kicked the Hadedas out of their nest on top of the Hamerkop’s nest and taken over. I am not sure how the babies are going to be safe when they leave the nest as it is right at the top of a huge Jacaranda.

This is a nest of baby Cape Robin-chats. They were sweet in the nest and even cuter when they left with their speckles.

It is also the time of year when we have to beat the birds to the seeds of the Ochnas. The Turtle Doves are not happy when we deprive them of their food.

There is either a very artistic or very confused Southern Masked Weaver at the dam with his very decorative nest. I hope a potential wife appreciates it.

The Thick Billed Weavers are also busy with their nests in the garden.

This is the first time I have seen a Cape White-eye on a nest. Jeff took a beautiful video of him on the nest which you can see on our Facebook page.

If you have not liked our Facebook page yet, please do – we love to share what’s going on at Random Harvest with you on a regular basis.

The Southern Bou-bou are very visible at this time of the year. I am not sure what he is inspecting. I think he is contemplating the bird tape in the tree and if he should brave it to look for insects.

I would like to report that the bird tape has worked like a charm. The trees are full of fruit so we will have a bumper crop of jam. Once we have collected enough I will remove the tape and leave the rest to the birds.

The picture of the Shrike and Laughing Dove is unusual as the Shrike is a predatory bird and here it is peacefully sharing food with a dove.

Jeffrey got this picture of a Terrapin sauntering through the grassland. Not sure where he was going but they are known to walk quite long distances.

There are a lot of earthworms around at the moment. Jeff took a video of one moving through the mulch. We are going to put it onto Facebook as it is quite fascinating watching how they move.

We couldn’t work out what was living in this swollen Thorn of Acacia luederitzii (Kalahari Thorn). Creatures will make a home wherever they find a niche.

This Skink found himself a good space to sun himself between the tiny flowers of a Justicia that attract the insects he feeds on.

The Highveld form of Scadoxus puniceus (Paintbrush) are in full bloom at the moment. The intense scarlet certainly lights the shady spots under trees, which is the preferred place for them to grow.

I planted the taller Natal form of Scadoxus puniceus in amongst Stipa dregeana grass under the trees in one of the cottage gardens.

For flowers later in the year I added some Crinum Moorei - this planting has turned out really well.

I have been trying to propagate Strophanthus speciosus (Forest Tail flower) for a while and am happy to say it is now available in the nursery.

It is quite an amazing plant in that in forest conditions it is a climber, but if planted in sun it does equally well but remains a shrub.

I love these highly unusual flowers.

The Acacia hebeclada (Candle Thorn) have been in full flower with their attendant insects buzzing around. I love this Acacia (I guess I do love all of the Acacias)

The small wildlife garden display in the nursery is looking great and is working well as we have a lot of birds and insects visiting.

The wild flowers are starting to bloom in the grassland.

We got this beautiful picture of a Boophone disticha.

This is the tumbleweed seed head you see rolling around.

The Hypoxis hemerocallidea and Hypoxis argentea are in full flower and I see many more plants peeking out in the grassland.

If we have some more rain soon it should look great at the beginning of December when we do the grassland walk.

We have been busy planting seeds. Even after 28 years I still get so excited when the seeds start germinating.

I never tire of the miracle of life.

It is one of my best places to go to in the nursery to check what has germinated on a daily basis.

We used the bird tape to great effect this year to keep the birds away from the seeds. Just one dove can do a lot of damage in the trays so this is a big help.

I was not amused that someone drove into a branch of my Acacia tortillis (Umbrella Thorn).

We had to cut off a really big branch to prevent further damage to the tree.

Luckily cutting the branch just improved the shape of the tree – it could so easily have ruined the shape if it had been a different branch.

It is not only the plants growing and blooming but the farm animals as well.

This cute little Heifer calf was born last week.

The turkeys have also hatched out babies.

There are now so many babies we are turning into a turkey farm.

Not that I mind as they are lovely to have around.

It is so great to be serenaded by the frogs at night. If I wake up in the night, I hear the Jackal, Owls and Thick Knees calling. Then I am woken by the dawn chorus.

It is hard to believe we are so close to Johannesburg. I am truly blessed to live on such a beautiful place so close to nature.

Hope to see you in the nursery soon.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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