Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - September 2019

Posted On: Sunday, September 1, 2019

Dear indigenous Enthusiast,

And just like that Spring has arrived – complete with weaver birds busy building their beautiful woven creations everywhere, blossoms on the fruit trees, and a distinct change in the light.

So many wonderful moments happen at Random Harvest on a daily basis that we can’t possibly put all the pictures in our newsletter, so thank goodness for Instagram! Follow us @randomharvestnurseryand keep up with what’s happening on the farm, in the wholesale and retail nurseries, tea garden, and shop. We also feature our cottages regularly.

A reminder that we are open on the public holiday celebrating Heritage Day – Tuesday the 24th of September.

Last month we said goodbye to Ashley Van Rensburg and welcomed Ashley Britz!

Congratulations to this very special lady, who in all her wedding preparations didn’t miss a beat and was as committed a member of my amazing team as ever.

Wishing you and Eben a lifetime of joy together.

Jeff and I couldn’t resist a happy snap with the beautiful bride!

In The Nursery

Don’t forget that every Wednesday is Pensioner’s Day in the Retail Nursery.

Those over the age of 65 can benefit from a 10% discount on all plants.

You just need to produce your pensioner’s card.

This Heritage Day, why not invest a little in your garden by planting indigenous plants that are intrinsically part of our National Heritage. In so doing (particularly if you choose something locally indigenous), you are helping our precious environment to support the diversity of creatures that are so dependent on our indigenous plants.

The Masked Weavers have all but taken over the bird-feeding station tree. Their single-mindedness about the tasks of building and breeding is quite something to watch. If you’re keen on photographing birds, don’t forget to bring your camera along when next you visit us.

In The Tea Garden

When I started the nursery nearly 30 years ago (can you believe it?), I never imagined that The Random Harvest Tea Garden would become the great place to recharge oneself and eat delicious food, that it has developed into!

Have a look at the reviews on Facebook

It brings me a lot of joy seeing first time customers look like they’ve found the hidden gem of Johannesburg. To my mind it is just this. There is no place on earth I’d rather be!

In The Shop

Some interesting goodies from our shop this month are:

  • Book of the month: Wild Flowers of the Magaliesburg by Kevin Gill and Andry Engelbrecht (R250.00) provides photographs and information on over 500 wild flower species of the Magaliesburg. It is aimed at those discovering these floral treasures for the first time, and includes ecological and habitat information for various species.
  • PSHB Fungicidal – if the fungus that these destructive beetles feed on is killed, they will eventually die. We need to do everything possible to reduce their numbers before they devastate our trees.
  • Bird mugs – gorgeous gifts or to just spoil yourself.
  • Greeting cards – a lovely range, pick what suits the recipient best.
  • Gardener’s Hand cream – nourishing and soothing. Anyone using this will be hooked.
  • Beaded Baobab – perfect to hang your earrings on
  • Craft Kits – Be prepared for holidays or weekends with these activities that provide wonderful tactile stimulation and encourage fine motor co-ordination.
  • Bird Feeders of all descriptions are available at Random Harvest, with a vast pantry of treats with which to fill them.


PSHB TALK - How to treat PSHB – and yes - it does work!

Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
When: Saturday, 14 September, 2019
Time: 10h00 to 12h00
Cost: R100 per person, includes tea, coffee and cake.
Booking essential: Email [email protected] or call 082 553 0598

Join us for a robust discussion on the very concerning aspects of this Beetle, and how it is spreading so rapidly. I strongly believe that the PSHB beetle is a real threat to our country’s biodiversity, and we need to do everything in our power to take wise, informed action against this infestation.


Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
When: 10h30 to 12h00
Cost: Free of charge – we just ask you to please support the nursery and / or the tea garden while you are here.
What to Bring: A notebook, your questions on the topic, and a friend
Date: Wednesday 4th September
Topic: Shade Plants.

I have been approached by many customers looking for indigenous shade plants to put in the garden or in pots on the patio or even indoors.

Let’s chat about the various plants that will do well when planted in the shade.

We’ll also discuss care of shade plants including some planting tips.

We’ll also have a brief discussion about our Trees of the year - Sclerocarya birrea and Philenoptera violaceae.

I decided to add them in to the morning as we have had so many requests for information on these trees.

Date: Wednesday October 2nd
Topic: 15 plants for Highveld Retirement Cottages
Gardens of Retirement establishments vary greatly in size and maintenance by the in-house team (or not).

A retirement home garden should ideally bring immense amounts of pleasure, be low maintenance and still meet the personal needs of the owner or resident. Over the years, we have found that there are a few plants that really stand out and tick all the boxes.

Join us to chat about these and ways to garden with them, and we’d love to hear what you have found success with too.


Saturday, 21 September 2019 – Andre Marx
Saturday 19th October 2019 – Lance Robinson
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp
Cost: R165 per person, including a great buffet breakfast after the walk
Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or Ashley on [email protected]

Take a walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. The diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing some of the 166 bird species spotted here. A bird list is supplied.

Note: Binoculars are important and greatly enhance your enjoyment of this activity – please don’t forget as we do not have spare. Good walking shoes and a hat are advised for the bird walk.

*Buffet breakfast includes: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Pork or Beef Sausage, Sliced Tomato, Creamed Mushroom, Muesli with milk or yogurt, Fruit salad, Cocktail Rolls, Butter and Jams, Tea, Coffee, Water Jugs, Orange Juice.


With only two months to go until we open for the Gardens of the Golden City weekend, we are full steam ahead with preparations.

Please visit the website for more information on this.


Domestic Gardener Training
(08h30 – 15h45): Date Friday, Sept 13th

Give your gardener the gift of knowledge! 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.

Easy Steps to Growing your own Edibles
(08h30 – 13h00): Date Saturday, Sept. 14th

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!

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


Sweet Thorn is our featured cottage for September. This tucked away cottage still has the feel of open space due to the large garden, partly shared with Wild Olive Cottage. These two cottages can be joined to create a lovely family stay space. The garden lends itself well to family get togethers (family of cottage guests), which we have organised and catered for in the past. Please enquire should you request a quote / more information.

Sweet Thorn has a beautiful corner bath with piping hot water, a small, well-set out kitchen and a bedroom and lounge space that is luxurious in its spaciousness.

One can often arrive at the cottage after a long day out to find the resident cows peacefully grazing at the fence, and a pair of Dikkops nestled in the grass of the cow’s paddock. If you’re looking for a stay with a truly country feel, then this is it. Book Now Online

In The Garden - Monthly Gardening Tips

If you haven’t pruned your Wild Dagga plants (Leonotis leonurus) back yet, then now is a good time. Prune to approximately knee height, or just below. Keep the soil well-mulched around the plant, as the shade from the taller stems will no longer keep the ground cool around it. The mulch will cool the soil down and keep it from drying out. These light, easily degradable branches are good for adding to the compost heap if you have one.

  • As day-time temperatures increase significantly, resist the temptation of over watering. Rather water less often with a good soaking once a week and keep a check on pot plants. Night temperatures are still low, and letting soil stay too wet for too long encourages soil fungal growth that can be harmful to your plants.
  • Fertilise with a good organic fertilizer such as Vita flower 3:1:5 or Vitagrow 2:3:2 or use a combination of Rockdust and compost to promote healthy soil-microbe life.


Plants Looking Good

Jamesbrittenia grandiflora - Wild phlox (E)

Under-utilised in landscapes, this hardy, evergreen, fast-growing small shrub creates a wondrous, long-flowering show in spring and early summer, with multiple stems topped with clusters of beautiful, quite large (dia. 2.5cm), light purple flowers. Its aromatic, grey-green, quilted leaves are dense and completely cover the waving stems. Makes a great border and container plant. Sun or semi-shade plant.

Chondropetalum tectorum - Thatch Reed (E); Dakriet (A)

Planted in full sun, this very hardy, evergreen, clump-forming, grass-like restio with thin, dark-green stems makes an excellent form plant and garden subject. Decorative brown flowers are borne in March and April. Enjoys plenty of water and will grow well with “wet feet”.

Lampranthus aureus ‘Orange’ – Golden Vygie (E); Gouevygie (A)

An extremely hardy, evergreen, succulent, spreading shrublet with grey-green, succulent, finger-like leaves. Throughout spring, it puts on a show of magnificent, vibrant-orange flowers. Plant in full sun, and well-drained, sandy to loamy soil.

Doreanthus bellidiformis Livingstone daisy (E); Bokbaaivygie (A)

Plant this annual with dazzlingly colourful flowers in a sunny area of the garden. Remove old flowers before they make seeds. This will prolong the flowering period for up 3 months.

Anisodontea ‘Classic Cerise’ - Hybrid Pink Mallow (E) One of our most popular plants - this very hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, medium-sized, hybrid shrub has soft, thinly-textured, lobed leaves, and bears masses of bright pink Hibiscus-like flowers for most of the year. Plant in full sun or semi-shade, in well-drained soil.

Polygala fruticosa ‘Petite’ - Heart-leaved Polygala (E);

This hardy, evergreen, shrublet is great in a mixed border, rockery, Terraforce walls or containers. It has decorative shiny, red-margined, grey-green, heart-shaped leaves. Young leaves are coppery coloured. Clusters of gorgeous, magenta, pea-shaped flowers (Aug. to May) attract bees and other pollinating insects to the garden.

Ficus craterostoma - Forest Fig (E), Stompblaarvy (A)

Fairly hardy, semi-deciduous, medium sized strangler fig. It has small, shiny, blunt tipped (like a fish’s tail), spirally arranged leaves, that are an exceptionally attractive feature of this plant. The small figs turn yellowish red when ripe from May to Dec., and attract many fruit-eating birds to the garden. Plant in sun or shade. Makes a wonderful container plant.



Our two plants on special this month are both striking landscape additions in their own right.

Watsonia borbonica - Suurkanol (a) is summer dormant, sending out long, thin, bright green leaves in autumn and spikes of beautiful showy pink flowers in spring and very early summer.

Plant in full sun, in well-drained soil.

Makes a good feature if planted in clumps or swathes and multiplies rapidly.

Ornithogalum juncifoliumGrass-leaved Chincherichee (E);

Hardy, evergreen, bulbous plant that has slender, grass-like, bright-green leaves. From Sept. to Mar it bears masses of flower spikes with small, white, exquisite, star-like florets. The flowers make a delicate cut flower, and also attract pollinating insects to the garden. Plant in a window box, or as part of a mixed perennial bed. Cut back after flowering. Plant in full sun for best results, or sun for at least half the day.


Winter turned into summer very quickly this year and boy, have we been busy, especially in the grassland. I have been told it is better to burn the grass when it is still long. I am afraid but I don’t have the courage to do that. If you have ever seen a grass fire when a little breeze starts up and how it almost explodes into 2-meter-high flames you will understand my fear.

Because of this I always cut the grass and bale the grass first. The bales are used to make our compost so not only do I get great pleasure from the grassland but it also provides vital raw material for the nursery.

Jeffrey is a past master at deploying the staff and controlling the burn. I am not sure what I would do if he wasn’t here to organise it as it can get out of control so quickly. He also has to be ultra-careful that the bales don’t catch fire. It they do catch fire it is totally uncontrollable, there is no amount of water that will quench them.

The amazing thing is that within a week to 10 days the veld is greening up even though it is as dry as a bone.

The birds especially the Guinea fowl are really enjoying it.

Nature is really miraculous.

One of the other huge jobs we have had to do is to control the Algae, Bulrushes and Papyrus on the dam. This is a terrible job and my staff have been amazing. They set to work with a will and a ready smile in the mud. I am so grateful to them for the wonderful job they did with such a good spirit.

Needless to say, while we were so busy there were not too many birds visiting the dam although it didn’t seem to faze the Moorhens at all. Here he is sunning himself on the bulrushes with not a care in the world.

We did at least see a Purple Heron, although he was skittish, with all the activity around the dam.

With the short and burnt grass the Black-headed Herons have been stalking around looking for an easy meal. Jeff managed to get this picture of one of them catching a rat and swallowing him whole. Talk about the right place at the right time. How is this for natural rat control.

Breeding season for the birds is starting. I know this by the number of visitors who are crowding around the bird feeding station gorging themselves on the offerings.

As you can see from the pictures the fruit eaters in particular are eating us out of house and home. The Grey Go-away Bird and Black-collared Barbet look as if they might choke on the chunk of fruit. They are not only coming to eat but, are flying off with huge chunks of fruit.

The Grey Hornbill is fattening up on the Suet we provide.

Once again, the Weavers are building nests close or around the food in the hopes of it being easier to find a mate.

After all his weeks of hard work excavating a new home the Cardinal Woodpecker inspected it thoroughly and seems to be happy with his handiwork.

Hopefully these pictures illustrate how important dead wood in the garden is for the birds. As well as for the many insects that live in and use the dead wood. They in turn provide food for the birds.

The tiny Bronze Mannikens and Common Waxbills have been feasting off the seeds of the annual grasses that grow in winter and seed at this time.

This female Amethyst Sunbird was looking hopefully at the dead Aloe Flowers.

They may not be able to offer a feast of nectar but could easily be harbouring tiny spiders which the sunbird will enjoy as well.

Talking of spiders there are a few of these huge spider webs in the Acacias in the barrier around the farm. It is amazing just how many interesting things Jeff and I see on our wanderings around the farm.

Talking of interesting things Jeff and I were so excited when we saw this ‘huge Rinkhals’ coiled up in the road. The only problem was that when we very gingerly crept up closer IT WAS A BLACK NURSERY PLASTIC. How silly and how disappointing.

I had a really sad time this month as we had to take out the huge Acacia sieberiana behind the office. It was starting to drop huge branches and as it was over the path had become a danger. I apologised to the tree for a whole week before we took it down. It was a really sad day for me.

The upside is that we now have a sunny area in what is predominantly a shady area which allows for a different look in this part of the garden.

Remember to cut back your grasses and clean away the thatch. They will start shooting within a week at this time of year. This cutting back is vital to the health of your grasses.

The Scadoxus puniceus (Paintbrush) are coming up in their hundreds and are a sure sign of spring. It is always a joy to see these beautiful flowers as they put their heads up through the bare soil.

It is at that time of year the Namaqualand Daisies reward one for taking the time to plant the seeds in winter. They add a riot of colour to a sunny spot in the garden while offering up nectar for the butterflies and insects.

The delicate Polygala virgata (Purple Broom) are in full bloom. This sparsely branched small shrub is just a riot of colour with each arching branch bearing these beautiful flowers along the stems.

Our Scabiosa mother plants are in full bloom and buzzing with insects – beautiful!

The moon this month has looked so close to the earth and has been truly beautiful. This picture of it behind the trees in the nursery looks like a surreal painting.

I wish you a happy spring, doing some happy gardening and hope to see you in the nursery.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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