Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2019

Posted On: Friday, November 1, 2019

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I hope by the time you receive this newsletter, we have had some rain. It is so hot and dry at the moment that I am constantly looking at the sky hoping for some rain.

The other thing I had been waiting for is the return of the Paradise Flycatcher.

They are normally here by the 10th of October.

This year I waited in vain. I was getting really worried that they would not be back because it was so hot and dry.

But Happiness! They arrived on the 15th of October. I am now hearing their cheerful calls all around the garden.

This lifts my spirits and puts a smile on my face every time I hear them.

In The Nursery

We’re into the last two months of the year, and our Christmas Tree for the Birds is well on its way to completion.

The colourful Masked Weavers and Red Bishop Birds are ready and waiting to lend their decorative plumage to our tree.

Don’t forget to visit with your camera as this provides some wonderful photo opportunities – and please give us a mention when posting on social media. Thanks!

KIDS EVENT – (Friday, 6th December 2019 to Sunday, 12th January 2020) Our “Spot the Creature in the Tree” has been given a new twist – with some interesting information about the creatures we’ve hidden in the tree for your children to find. Each child completing the activity will receive a special Holiday gift from us.

In The Tea Garden

Beneath the spreading Acacia trees in the tea garden is the perfect shady spot to sit and enjoy an ice-cold Mulberry Cordial, Iced Coffee or an Italian ice cream from La Veneziana.

If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxed place to get together for your office year-end function, consider our lovely outdoor eating space. Bookings for these taken for Monday to Friday, excluding Saturday and Sunday, from 8am to 5pm. Last orders taken by 4pm. Please contact Ashley on [email protected] or 011 957 5356 for bookings.


All booking and enquiries (except School of Garden Design – book directly with them) need to made with the office on [email protected] or Phone no. 082 553 0598 or 011 957 5356. Please note that it is NOT possible to book for any events via our website at present.

Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
Times: 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 November 6th
Topic: Indigenous Water Plants

Indigenous water plants are an essential part of a water feature that both looks beautiful and is beneficial to the wildlife in the garden.

We’ll discuss some of the wonderful variety of plants that you can use and that are available from Random Harvest.

How to plant them and use them in the water feature will also be covered.

Date: Wednesday December 4th
Topic: How to create a security hedge with hardy shrubs
We’ll talk about the many hardy indigenous shrub species one can use to create a security hedge. Also to be covered are the topics of spacing and positioning to create the most effective, impenetrable barrier to your property.


Saturday, 16th November – Lance Robinson
Saturday,21 December – Andre Marx

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] - Bookings cannot be made on our website – please use the details listed here.
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
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.


Random Harvest Nursery is delighted to be opening our gardens this year to the summer Gardens of the Golden City. Read more about this event here.

An entrance fee of R30 per person over the age of 12 will be charged to view the gardens, and proceeds go to charity. Our walks and talks (no charge over and above the garden entrance fee) over these two days are as follows:

Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Venue: Random Harvest Nursery Meeting Room (please report to reception first)
For more information: Call 082 553 0598 (Paul) or Email [email protected] (Ashley).
Linda will talk about the amazing variety of birds found at Random Harvest, and will share some of her best bird gardening tips. Includes a slide show presentation.

Time: 14h00 – 15h30
Venue: Random Harvest Nursery Meeting Room or outdoor talk space (please report to reception first)
For more information: Call 082 553 0598 (Paul) or Email [email protected] (Ashley).

The threat posed by the PSHB beetle to indigenous, exotic and commercially valuable tree species continues to escalate. We discuss a positive and constructive way forward, with tried and tested solutions. We present facts and practical solutions.

Venue: Random Harvest Nursery
Time: 10h30 – 12h30
For more information: Call 082 553 0598 (Paul) or Email [email protected] (Ashley).
A walk and talk based on the principals in practice at Random Harvest. Ideas for black water and rainwater harvesting in the domestic garden will be discussed, together with a look at various plants that are ideally suited to black and grey water filtration and various aspects of rainwater harvesting.

Venue: Random Harvest Meeting Room – please report to reception on arrival.
Time: 14h00 – 15h30
For more information: Call 082 553 0598 (Paul) or Email [email protected] (Ashley).

The struggle to keep alien invasive plant species at bay in our suburbs can only be won with the buy-in of homeowners and property owners. This talk is aimed at the layman interested in identifying alien invasive plant species and removing them from our suburban gardens and ecosystem. Landscapers and interest groups are also most welcome to attend.

Lindsay Gray Courses

Friday, 15 November 2019 - Domestic Gardener Training (08h30 – 15h45)
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.

Saturday, 16 November 2019 - Easy Steps to Drawing a Plan and Sketching your Ideas (08h30 – 16h30)
On this full day workshop students will learn how easy it is to draw a plan for the garden to ensure accuracy and correct plant placement. In the afternoon, the students will discover their inner artist as they practice sketching plants and ideas for their garden. No previous experience necessary. Refreshments & lunch included.

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


Rock Fig Cottageis our featured Bed and Breakfast Accommodation this month.

It is a semi-self-catering, cosy little cottage, which is tucked away in a small and private rock garden.

The cottage window looks out onto a Fever Tree, which is always full of birds.

For regular updates on our cottage overnight accommodation, follow us on Instagram.

In The Shop

We have great new stock in our little shop. There are some items we are stocking for the very first time.

Get in early to purchase great Christmas Gifts, home spoils, or perfect teacher’s gifts.

For the pets:
Dogs beds & Dogs blankets in various sizes, made by Constance from Cosmo City. What an amazingly entrepreneurial woman that I love being able to support her! As you can see the beds have been tried and tested by Abby… she thinks they are great!

For the people:
Picnic blankets & Fly nets – (also made by Constance) especially for Christmas Presents or Christmas outdoor gatherings, Carols under the stars, holiday picnics, in the garden or some far away location.

Toys made from tin – beautiful novelty gifts for children or adult collectors of unique little treasures.

Heritage products are designed to make bath-time an indulgent and heavenly experience - Bath Tea (Rooibos, Paradise & Tropical) @ R40.00 each; Bath Salt (Lavender, Mustard, Rose & Hibiscus) @ R35.00 each; Loofah Soap, Juniper, Black Clay & Goat’s Milk Soap @ R40.00 each. Also in stock by Heritage products is Salad Dressing (R49.50) and Sweet Mustard (R45.00).

Our Book of the month is Mountain Flowers, A Field Guide to the Flora of the Drakensberg and Lesotho by Elsa Pooley (R298 each). It is a colourful, light weight, easy to use field guide that includes over 1000 plant species that are found on the highest mountains of southern Africa, from the foothills to their summit.

Gift vouchers for the nursery and / or tea garden make lovely gifts.

For the garden: Oleum (500ml bottle at R130) and Margaret Roberts environmentally friendly insecticides (R390.00 for 50g) are now back in stock.

Plants Looking Good

The best place to garden when it’s so hot is in the shade. Here are some plants suitable for a shady spot under the trees, or in a container on your patio. Although not all plants featured are for shady areas.

Plectranthus fruticosus ‘James’ - Forest Spur-flower (E) is a fairly hardy, evergreen, upright shrub (0,5 to 1m) with attractive olive-green foliage tinged with purple beneath.

Spikes of pink to mauve flowers are borne in profusion in autumn.

It is reputed to be a good fly repellent (rub your windowsills with the broken stems).

Peddia africana – Green Flower Tree, Poison Olive (E) is a fairly hardy, small, slender tree or large shrub, with shiny, dark green leaves and dark bark.

The clusters of yellowish-green flowers are a striking feature of this shade-loving plant.

The glossy black fruit is reputedly toxic to humans (hence the common name).

Plant as a container plant or beautiful small tree for a tiny, shady garden, with adequate water and lots of compost.

Delosperma cooperi- Klipvygie (A) is a hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, prostrate, succulent groundcover only growing to about 10cm in height.

The narrow, elongated leaves are soft and fleshy and vary in shape from triangular to cylindrical. Their glistening appearance protects them from harsh sunlight.

In spring and summer, large, glistening, magenta to mauve flowers are borne, that attract bees and other insects to the garden.

Needs full sun to semi-shade and well-drained soil.

Pelargonium quercifolium ‘Royal Oak’ is a most rewarding shrublet as it is hardy, evergreen and drought-resistant.

It adds interesting foliage texture with it’s scented, maroon-veined, oak-shaped leaves. Clusters of gorgeous dark pink to red flowers are borne from Aug. to Jan.

Looks beautiful in either a mixed bed, mass-planted or as a container plant in full sun or half-day shade. Plant in well-drained soil

Linum africanum- African Flax (E)
Hardy, evergreen, compact, drought-resistant bushy shrublet (up to 30cm) with attractive grey-green leaves.

Bears masses of shiny, yellow flowers (Oct. to April) that are often flushed with red on the underside.

Best planted in groups. Plant in either full sun or semi-shade in well-drained, compost-rich soil.

Plants On Special

Our plants on special (15% discount on retail price) in November are Albuca shawii and Buddleja saliviifolia.

A beautiful addition to a rockery, short grassland garden or meadow of delicate, bulbous plants is Albuca shawii - Small Yellow Albuca (E); Lanternblom (A).

It is a hardy, deciduous bulb with very thin, dark-green leaves.

Dainty spikes of beautiful, nodding, delicately-scented, yellow and green flowers are borne from Sept. to Feb.

They prefer full sun but can take light semi-shade. Plant in well-drained, loamy soil and do not over-water.

Buddleja salviifolia- Sagewood (E); Saliehout (A) is an excellentaddition to a waterwise, wildlife friendly garden. It is a very hardy,evergreen, drought-resistant and very fast-growing, large shrub orsmall tree.

The grey, quilted leaves add colour and textural value to thegarden. From Jul. to Oct. It bears wonderfully-fragrant, small cream tolilac flowers in long sprays that attract a myriad of insects.

A wonderfulbird and butterfly tree that can be used as a nurse plant to protect otherplants in very cold areas. Plant in well-drained soil, in sun or semi-shade.

Occurring at higher altitudes on the margins of, or in, evergreen forest, on rocky outcrops, mountain slopes and along watercourses.

On The Farm

With this heat and multiple pumps breaking down I panicked and decided to sink another borehole. I had, had a geophysicist mark a few boreholes for me. The gentleman from Lanseria Drilling then came along and chose which borehole to drill.

They duly arrived and, much to my consternation, these huge rigs drove on my precious grassland to reach the site.

I was watching the drilling anxiously thinking of all the ‘What ifs’ when, after a few hours, the water literally shot out of the hole. I cannot explain the delight I felt - talk about liquid gold! Water is the life of this nursery and my way of life. This is just another little insurance that we can carry on with what we do.

Then when we tested the capacity, we got this beautiful, delicious jet of clear water. Needless to say, we didn’t waste a drop and sent it down to the wetland.

One of the reasons for the pumps breaking down was that they were blocked by the leaves and seeds that had worked their way through the dam covers. So, we had the huge job of cleaning the dams but I am so lucky my staff do these jobs with a smile on their faces.

I have been spraying my trees preventatively for the dreaded Shothole Borer. We found a few bites and sprayed with PSHB lipid and dried up the fungus in a few days. This is the only environmentally friendly solution I know of and am betting the health of my precious trees on it.

I won’t spray terrible poisons around to save my trees and kill everything else in the vicinity. I am confident that this will work and will keep you posted on my results or any other environmentally friendly solution that I can find.

The picture here is to illustrate the method and equipment used when applying the PSHB lipid which contains fungicide. Actual chemicals were not used, just plain water. Full appropriate Personal Protective Equipment is always worn when spraying, in order to comply with safety regulations, regardless of the toxicity of the substances being sprayed.

We have been crazy busy planting seed. I have surrounded my seed shade house with bird tape hoping to keep the birds from feasting on the seed.

So far so good except for the Groundscraper Thrush. He braved the tape to get to the seedling trays but luckily only to feast on any juicy worms there may be in the trays and not the seed.

The plants I have problems keeping the birds away from are the Ochna species seed.

The first step is that my Mom makes me netting bags which we cover the seeds with while they are still on the trees. Then first thing in the morning we collect, trying to beat the birds for the seeds that are still exposed.

When we plant them, we have to cover the seedling trays as the birds will brave the bird tape to get at the seed.

We have had to go to these extreme measures as we have had no seed for two years, but this year the seeds have started germinating in their protected environment. Hopefully we will have some of these beautiful plants ready in about 18 months’ time. Ochna serrulata the Mickey Mouse Bush has to be one of my favourite shrubs.

I am so excited that Bruce Stead, who wrote ‘Creative Indigenous Garden Design’, is teaching my staff ‘Indigenous Garden Design’.

He is such an amazing teacher and my staff are learning and thriving under his care.

Hopefully after all of Bruce’s inputs they will be even more help to you when you visit the nursery.

We are so lucky that from next year Bruce will be running courses here on indigenous garden design for the gardening public. This will be of great interest to all of you who love your gardens.

I thought I would like to give you a tip on how to protect the birds in dry times where they may be tempted to get into dams and ponds looking for water and drown.

Simply float a plank of wood in the pond. The birds will use it to both drink and hunt for insects just as this wagtail is doing.

It can also be a life raft for insects that may have fallen into the pond.

Jeff and I arrived at the dam at just the perfect time when this Cape Longclaw had had a bath. He was fluffing and scratching and totally ignored us. A beautiful moment.

I am not sure what this Southern Masked Weaver was thinking – maybe ‘bigger and better will attract the ladies.’ What a lot of work for one tiny bird.

These Common Waxbills found themselves a nice patch of green with seeds to munch on. It is always entertaining watching the antics of these tiny birds when they are feeding.

On the previous Bird watching walk they saw this beautiful Black-backed Puffback sitting in amongst the seeds on an Acacia sieberiana (Paperbark Thorn).

This Thick-billed Weaver was feasting on the fruits of the Ehretia rigida (Puzzlebush).

I guess he uses his thick, strong bill to break the seeds. The Puzzlebushes have been very generous with their fruits this year.

Luckily for me I have managed to collect a lot to grow. There we so many seeds I didn’t need to compete with the birds for my share.

There are so many crows around the area that they are becoming a plague and are devastating the ability of the birds, particularly ground nesting bird’s ability to breed.

When a pair of crows decided to make a nest on Random Harvest, I asked my staff to take it down before they laid their eggs.

What a surprise – the nest was made completely out of bits of wire. I am not sure how a baby would cope with this and not get injured by the wire.

They seem to be collecting it from my bin that has the bits of wire we cut off when making baskets to plant the trees in. You live and learn.

I am not sure how Random Harvest became the protector of the environment in the area around the farm. Every time we have a bit of extra money we try and do something.

I got permission from my neighbour to cut down the Wattles just outside our gate. It is a huge job and we are about halfway through.

Amazingly, even though the grassland is still completely brown and bone dry there are wild flowers popping up like this beautiful Vigna vexillata. I am hoping this is a good sign and that it means the rains will be here soon. I for one can’t wait to stand in the rain and getting sopping wet.

Jeffrey got this lovely picture of, what I think is a Potter Wasp building his nest in the veld.

With this heat the algae in the dam has been blooming constantly so we are still busy removing it by hand. The water itself is beautifully clear – thanks to all the essential microorganisms we added to it.

Despite the heat some of the plants are flowering madly like this Common Spikethorn (Gymnosporia buxifolia) in the barrier we planted.

A plant I love is the indigenous Poppy (Papaver aculeata) which puts up a show of these cheerful orange flowers in the morning – they fade and die in the afternoon, only to burst into flower the next morning.

Here’s hoping we all get soaking wet with all the rain we are going to have.

Happy gardening.



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