Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - February 2019

Posted On: Friday, February 1, 2019

Dear Indigenous enthusiast,

Wow, has it been hot? 

I am just happy my indigenous plants are looking great in spite of the heat.

Hopefully you have an area shaded by indigenous trees to sit under and enjoy your garden


Entrance Display

This display is a collection of cottage garden plants in containers – both edible and indigenous ornamental, in containers. Jeff found an old trailer on the farm and we created a beautiful display with only “second-hand” or re-purposed containers, so that it is truly a sustainable display.

The delight of a cottage garden is that it is designed to be filled to the brim with useful plants.

Waterwise Courtyard

February will be the last month to view our water-wise courtyard display garden as we will be changing it next month.

If you are not able to visit the nursery, we have an informative article about this arid garden on the website, as well as a blog with photos taken of the garden over the months.


For those in love with grasses and grassland gardens (as I am), we have a great variety and quantity of beautiful indigenous grasses in the nursery. Have a look at our website for inspiration and some handy tips when creating a grassland garden.


The Dip ‘n Grow rooting hormone is back in stock. This simple to use product greatly enhances the capacity of cuttings to produce healthy roots.


Monthly Coffee Morning:

Time: 10h30 – 12h00

Cost: Free of charge – please just support our nursery and tea garden while you are visiting us.

Wednesday February 6 – Colourful Indigenous Plants

This coffee morning will be a visual feast of colourful indigenous plants.

We’ll start with a slide presentation and have a Q & A afterwards, about indigenous gardening with these gorgeous plants.

Wednesday March 6 – Indigenous Shrubs in the Garden

Spend a morning chatting about some very useful indigenous shrubs for the garden. Shrubs are one of the most useful groups of plants in landscaping.

They fill difficult spaces, screen, protect, demarcate borders with hedges and generally complete a garden.

They can also be pruned up to make beautiful little trees for townhouse and retirement home gardens.

Bumper Coffee Morning

Saturday, 16th February - Grasslands and Gardening with Indigenous Grasses (incl. a Grassland walk)

Jeffrey and I will share with you why the grassland is our magic place. We hope to encourage people to garden with grasses and create a little of the magic in their garden.

The grassland is looking great, at last! Holding this coffee morning on a weekend is to accommodate those who are working during the week.


Meet at 9h00 and go for a walk in the grassland.

The regular coffee and chat will start at 10h00.


Dates:Saturday Feb 9, 2019 (with Andre Marx) & Saturday March 9, 2019 (with Lia Steen)

Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 sharp.

Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (see website for details) after the walk

To Book: (Essential) Call reception on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]

A birding walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. A diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing a wide variety of the 167 species of bird spotted here. A bird list is supplied for you to tick off the species that you see.

Binoculars, good walking shoes, a hat and plenty of sunscreen are advised for the bird walk.

Lindsay Gray Courses

To reserve your place, contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]/ or www.schoolofgardendesign.com

February 15 Friday and March 8 Friday (08h30 – 15h45)

Domestic Gardener Training

Give your gardener the gift of knowledge! This course is designed for any gardener at any skills level who works in the domestic, landscaping and commercial environment, to enhance their gardening skills with emphasis on sustainable gardening practice. Most languages are catered for on the day. A truly uplifting course! Breakfast and lunch included.

February 16 Saturday - (08h30 – 16h30)

Designing & Planting your Garden

Design is the first step in landscaping. You cannot landscape (or plant) a garden until you have designed it and, for that, you need to understand (a) how to organise spaces so that they meet your needs or that of your client, and (b) the environment to which it is attached.

This course covers key elements of garden design, plant selection and creating habitats for wildlife. Our beautiful nursery also enables Lindsay and her students to explore all the attributes of indigenous plants. Refreshments & lunch included.

March 9 Saturday - (08h30 – 13h00)- (08h30 – 15h45)

Easy Steps to Growing your own Edibles

In this morning workshop, Lindsay will discuss and illustrate the important aspects of growing one’s own fruit, vegetables and herbs. The workshop content includes soil nutrition, feeding, pruning and healthy, organic growing practice. Students will also experiment with sowing different seed of their choice on the workshop. A fun morning for all!


Are you yearning for a room with a view of a lovely indigenous garden or the peaceful pastoral view of the cows?

Swop the straight jacket of mundane day-to-day living, for a beautiful, romantic room. Whether inside or outside of your cosy little cottage, you will know that you have escaped to the space your heart has been longing for.

We’re running a Valentines special. Stay the night of the 14th Feb and get 5% off the regular price, and a Valentines hamper of chocolate and fruit. Stay two nights or more (Monday 11th to checkout on Friday 15th February) and get a 10% discount on accommodation.

For more information, contact our hospitality team on either 082 553 0598 (Paul) or 072 562 3396 (David)


1. Plan before planting - If you’ve made any New Year’s resolutions for your garden, and haven’t implemented them yet, remember that the better thought out your plan is for your garden, the easier and cheaper it is to complete it in stages or sections.

2. Pruning - Some pruning back of branches may be in order in February. Make sure you prune thinner branches with secateurs as shown. For larger branches – consider carefully how they will grow after pruning, before you get started with a saw.

Incorrect Use

Correct Usage

Always cut with the desired end-shape in mind and be mindful of small shoots and branches that will take off and grow once the larger pieces are cut.

Sometimes just lightening the load of a branch by removing some of the smaller leafy twigs and heavy fruit can greatly improve the look of a plant or lighten it so that it doesn’t break under the weight of extra rain water.


Eucomis zambeziaca - White Pineapple Lily (E); Witpynappellelie (A)

This dainty bulb has bright green leaves and spikes of typical, pineapple-plant, white flowers with a tuft of green on top. They bloom almost all summer.

Plant in the garden in sun or semi-shade. Use it as a border plant, grouped in a rockery or as a gorgeous container plant. It is particularly beautiful near a water feature.

Indigoferra frutescens- River Indigo (E); Rivierverfbos (A)

This hardy, semi-deciduous, graceful, small to medium sized tree has attractive bark and delicate compound leaves.

It blooms profusely with upright sprays of delicate but showy pink and dark pink flower spikes for an exceptionally long time in summer (October to March).

Cenchrus ciliaris - Foxtail Buffalo Grass (E); Bloubuffelgras (A)

A very hardy, evergreen, graceful, perennial, tufted grass with light-green leaves.

Dense spikes of purple to golden flowers are produced from August to April.

These are followed by pale-golden spikes of seeds, which make this an attractive garden plant.

It is drought-tolerant, prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but can tolerate a little shade.

Eragrostis gummiflua - Gum Grass (E); Gomgras (A)

This very hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, perennial grass has sparse, hard, tough leaves.

It bears delicate, large racemes of pink to purple flowers and seeds on stiff branches from November to May.

Parts of this grass are quite sticky, hence the common name.

Plant in a meadow garden where its attractive seed-heads add texture.

Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soils.

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

This useful spreading, thorny plant for shade, semi-shade or sun can be used to cover large areas or clipped into an attractive small formal hedge.

It also looks great in a container. Added to this, it is hardy, evergreen and drought-resistant.

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

Ptaeroxylon obliquum - Sneezewood (E); Nieshout (A)

A decorative garden subject, the hardy Sneezewood is good as a shade tree and looks beautiful when planted to form an avenue.

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

It is evergreen or deciduous (depending on the conditions) drought-resistant, and a fairly fast-growing tree.

The size of this tree depends on habitat and it will only become a huge tree in mist belt forest. It is now a protected tree in South Africa.

Bulbine frutescens(Orange and Yellow) - Stalked Bulbine (E); Rankkopieva (A)

Plant this very hardy, evergreen succulent in large groups or in between rocks for good effect.

Its succulent, grey-green, quill-like leaves makes it a gardener’s dream plant.

Throughout the year it bears spikes of pretty star-shaped, yellow or orange flowers that attract insects.

Plant in full sun or light shade.

The gel in the leaves can be used to soothe bites and promotes healing of small wounds.

Nymphoides indica- Yellow Waterlily (E); Geelwaterlelie (A)

A “must-have” for small water features, especially in containers, or dotted around in a larger pond or dam, in between the larger Waterlilies.

It is a hardy, semi-deciduous, floating plant with rhizomes and long, slender stems ending in almost circular leaves that float flat on the surface of the water.

From October to May, it has abundant, small, fluffy, yellow flowers at the edge of each leaf and is a pretty sight floating on the surface of a pond – insects love drinking water using the leaves as a perch. Sun or semi-shade.


You simply cannot go home without these two plants on special this month. Both so beautiful in their own right.

Themeda triandra - Red Grass (E); Rooigras (A)

A very hardy, tall, tufted grass with foliage in many shades of green that turn reddish when older.

The pendulous, purple-red flower spikes are most attractive from September to June.

The seeds that follow are also a beautiful feature of this grass.

Themeda adds movement to the garden as it waves gently in the breeze.

Plant this beautiful grass in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil.

Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora - Purple Bells (E)

A shrub that grabs attention in any garden.

So popular as both a hedging or filler plant as well as a container plant.

Fairly hardy, evergreen, shrub with attractive foliage that gives an impression of subtle variegation.

It bears large, spectacular, dark blue, trumpet-shaped flowers with purple throats in late summer, but flushes with masses of these beautiful flowers in autumn.

Grows in sun or semi-shade and it thrives in well-composted soil.


I think just about the entire “On the Farm” part newsflash will be about Bullfrogs. We have been having such fun watching their breeding cycle with all the different stages.

I thought the rain had come a little too late for the Giant Bullfrog to come out of their burrows in the grassland to breed. Boy was I ever wrong!

Jeff and I went down to check the level of the dam. I am always excited about this as we made furrows to take the water off the roofs in the nursery and from the water seeping out between the lines. I am proud that we made these furrows as they make sure no water is wasted and help to prevent erosion when a large amount of water washes off the paving.

Imagine our excitement when we saw about 8 Bullfrogs in the dam with all the drama associated with this. The males are very aggressive and blow themselves up to look a lot bigger than they are. This went on for about 5 days. Eventually this dominant male (which is huge) got the job of looking after the tadpoles

The eggs hatched within a few days and were tiny – I didn’t think they were Bullfrog tadpoles, but I was wrong.

The tadpoles grew at a phenomenal rate under the watchful eye of the huge male. I was so worried that the Herons would make a feast of the tadpoles. I needn’t have worried as the male is so aggressive that they kept their distance.

Abby put her nose near the tadpoles and the male launched himself at her. He had his legs spread and flashed his bright yellow belly. Abby nearly had a heart attack and kept her distance from then on.

Jeff and I visited the dam at least three times a day to make sure that the tadpoles were safe, but we needn’t have worried, they had a good father with a watchful eye.

It was quite amazing watching the transformation. You could actually see the tadpoles beginning to look like mini bullfrogs whilst still in their egg sac.

I didn’t think we would be lucky enough to see the babies leaving the dam. We nearly missed them as they dispersed in the grass around the dam. Lucky Jeff has a great eye and we were lucky enough to see the migration. And Oh My Word! They were the cutest, perfect little miniature Bullfrogs.

It took 2 days for them to leave the water but they were still in the grass around the dam. The first day big daddy was there to protect them, and then he left. What arrived today? The Herons to feast on the babies.

This I couldn’t have and had to appoint the ‘protector of the bullfrogs’, Jolam, who will be spending his days there, keeping the Herons at bay until the babies are dispersed.

Believe it or not this process took only eight days.

If you would like to learn more about the Giant Bullfrog, the Endangered Wildlife Trust has an interesting booklet on these fascinating creatures.

With their ever dwindling habitat I am privileged to be able to offer them a safe haven in the grassland at Random Harvest.

I have new respect for the Red-knobbed Coot, they are the most wonderful parents and are a delight to watch.

As the babies have developed they have become somewhat more brave and will forage on the edge of the dam, but under the ever watchful eye of the adults.

The babies were standing on the dwindling nest while the parents, after all the work of shoring it up when it floated, started to break the nest up. I am assuming to make them more independent.

The coots are taking the nesting material to the grasses on the edge of the dam. We cannot make up our minds if they are building a new nest or just discarding the nesting material. Time will tell.

The White-faced Whistling Ducks visited the dam. They only do so when the dam is full. It is always exciting to see them.

The tiny birds have been enjoying the shallow water on the edge of the dam. But they are always a little too far away to definitely identify them, I think they are mostly Bishops.

The African Wattled and Blacksmith Lapwings have been stalking the edge of the dam in amongst the drowned grasses. I am sure they are finding tasty morsels to eat.

I am happy to see the Cormorants are in and out of the dam. It means there are still a lot of fish for them to eat. One of them caught such a big fish he could hardly swallow it and had to drink water to push it down.

Leaving the dam area and going into the grassland and nursery.

The baby Wattled Lapwing babies are growing up. Luckily we managed to keep the crows away and they had really cheeky parents to protect them.

We have removed the Christmas Tree for the birds and are now putting the food in the normal feeding station. This doesn’t seem to have concerned the birds at all.

The Black-capped Bulbul weren’t satisfied with the food we provide but went and stole bread from my staff’s lunch – really cheeky.

You can see from this picture why the name of this sunbird was changed from Black Sunbird to Amethyst Sunbird – very appropriate. I thought this was such a lovely picture I had to share it with you.

The Grey Hornbills are all over the farm. I love their lovely fluting calls and seeing them foraging in groups.

I loved this White-throated Swallow perching among the Papyrus before swooping off to hunt insects.

The nursery is full of Garden Acraea butterflies. They are feasting on the nectar that is offered up by the Blue Scabiosa that are in full flower.

Ashley took this picture of, what I think is a Hoverfly on Selago.

Life is full of beauty if we just take the time to watch nature and look at the tiny lives that we offer refuge to in our indigenous gardens.

After the rain some of the Acacias like this Acacia rehmaniana (Silky thorn) burst into flower. The Acacias are so rewarding if you pause to notice just how much life they support.

The seeds we planted are popping up in multitudes. It is hard to imagine that these seedlings will one day be beautiful majestic trees. Truly a miracle of nature.

Finally, I had to share this picture I took from my bedroom window. It looks like an idealised painting of what paradise should look like and I am the lucky one who lives there.

Life is full of joy and beauty if we take the time to breathe and take it all in.

I wish you some of this joy and peace for 2019 and hope to see you in the nursery.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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