Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - December 2019

Posted On: Sunday, December 1, 2019

Dear Indigenous enthusiast,


What a gift the rain was after the hot dry time when I was in panic mode about getting the nursery watered.  It is nothing short of miraculous how almost overnight everything is green and bursting with growth, even the birds are happy and very busy nesting on the farm.

After the wonderful rain the nursery is all cool and misty with an almost mystical feel.

A reminder of our December operating hours and dates:

  • Monday, 16th December (Day of Reconciliation): Open 8am to 5pm
  • Tuesday 24th December 8am to 1pm
  • Wednesday 25th December (Christmas Day): Closed
  • Thursday 26th December (Day of Goodwill): Closed
  • Wednesday 1st January (New Year’s Day): Closed

In the Nursery

The Christmas tree for the birds is up and the birds are very happy with the offerings.

We have had some new decorations made which you can purchase to give the birds in your garden the Christmas feeling.

KIDS EVENT– (Friday, 6th December 2019 to Sunday, 12th January 2020)

Our “Spot the Creatures in the Tree” has been given a new twist – with some interesting information about the creatures we’ve hidden, this time in the garden for your children to find.

Each child completing the activity will receive a special Holiday gift from us.

Our tiny grassland garden is looking great. Have a look on your left as you start walking through the nursery.

As part of my constant drive to improve our services to customers, we are busy educating our sales team on how to do garden design and plant laying.

This is also a great investment in my staff, and I am already seeing a difference in their approach to setting out the plants in the nursery and how they interact with their customers.

A reminder that we have delivery services that can greatly reduce your logistic plans.

Please feel free to ask Linda, Jeffrey or Jonathan for advanced knowledge on plant habits and care. We are passionate about the plants that we stock and love people to get the most out of them.

In the Shop

Book of the month

Liefeke’s “There’s a Butterfly in my Garden”.

R150.00 per copy

Of note in the shop this month are:

  • Home-made plum jam as served in our tea garden and for our gift shop.
  • Beaded Christmas decorations. Our famous Christmas bird feeders are now available in new designs.
  • A range of nourishing skin care products by Herb Afrique, African Potato cream, Sausage Tree creams and a few others - they are all natural. Should you need more skin care advice, we are happy to get you in touch with the supplier.
  • Beautiful carved birds.
  • Well-made, beautiful shopping bags and handbags made by a local craftsman.
  • A selection of garden care products that will empower you to become the captain of your own garden. Learn to identify and control pests.
  • Nursery vouchers allow perfect freedom of choice to spend on shop items, plants or the tea garden.

Follow us on Instagram for regular updates on what’s in stock.



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 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.

Date: Wednesday January 8th 2020
Topic: Shade Gardening
Sit at the beautiful new shade garden that we planted and Jonathan will take you through the design and plants. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the installation and placing of plants.

If you are lucky enough you may see the bullfrog which has just come out from underground when you go to the dam to do some birdwatching.


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 – 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.

Friday, 24 January 2020, Friday 14 February 2020 - 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 15 February 2020 - Essential Steps to Designing and Planting your Garden (08h00 – 16h00)
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.

Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for further


Our featured cottage of the month is Wild Olive. It is named after the beautiful indigenous Olea europaea subsp. africana, a tree that occurs naturally on the Highveld.

A neat, picturesque cottage with a queen sized bed and the prettiest outlook onto its indigenous garden.

It can be combined with Sweet Thorn Cottage to create a family-sized space that sleeps four. You can read about Wild Olive Cottage here

Did you know that you can purchase a B&B voucher for future use? This may just be the perfect anniversary gift for your partner or for your parents, or a special friend that just needs to recharge in a quiet, safe and peaceful space. Every effort has been put into creating comfortable and well-equipped cottages that cater for all our nature-loving visitors. (link to article Robyn wrote, thanks)

Plants Looking Good

Aloe boylei - Broad Leaved Grass Aloe (E), is an unusual very hardy, deciduous nursery offering that makes a good container plant.

The decorative, broad leaves have a few white spots at the base, white teeth on the margins, and end in a point.

In summer, a flattish inflorescence bears lovely salmon pink flowers, which taper off to green tips.

Pogonarthria squarrosa - Herringbone Grass (E)
Plant this very hardy, semi-deciduous, tufted, perennial grass in groups to get the full effect of the flowers and seed-heads.

It makes an attractive addition to a grassland garden, and as it is not a very robust grass it lends itself to being planted in between wildflowers.

Gazania rigens var. leucolaena ‘Pink’ - Trailing Gazania (E); Rankbotterblom (A)

This hardy, drought-resistant, creeping groundcover with attractive, silvery-grey leaves has a long and rewarding flowering season.

It is free-flowering with beautiful, large, pink flowers (Aug. to Feb.)

Ideal for rockeries and containers and for stabilizing soil on banks. Plant in full sun.

Justicia capensis - Money Plant (E)
Fairly hardy, evergreen shrub with small, glossy, velvety leaves.

It flowers year round, with scented, magenta flowers with white markings.

It is a good garden plant for sun or shade, attracting a myriad of pollinating insects, including butterflies.

According to traditional belief, it will attract customers to a business or improve the chances of employment.

Thorncroftia succulenta – Rock Sage (E);

It is surprising that this attractive, tough, easy to grow, succulent shrub is not more commonly grown than it is.

The grey green foliage and magenta pink flowers make this an interesting, medium to large shrub for rockeries and well-drained soil in sunny areas of the garden.

Diospyros austro-africana- Firesticks (E), Kritikom (A) An attractive, extremely hardy, evergreen, shrub or small tree.

For sun or semi-shade. It has small leaves, tiny red flowers (Aug. to Nov.) and ornamental red to black berries. Sexes are on separate plants, therefore only female plants bear fruit.

It gets a lovely twisted shape and stays small if not overwatered and over fertilized. Perfect for an oriental styled garden. It attracts birds and insects.

Helichrysum splendidum - Cape Gold (E); Geelsewejaartjie (A); phefo-ea-loti (SS)

Hardy, evergreen, small, sprawling shrub that grows in moist though well-drained areas in sun or semi-shade. Use as a sub-shrub at the edges of treed areas.

The silvery, aromatic, small leaves provide good colour and texture contrast in the garden. The bright yellow ‘everlasting’ flowers can be used as a cut flower.

Plants on Special - Less 15% Discount

Start you own grassland garden by using these plants on special.

Senecio speciosus is a lovely surprise in the grasslands during late winter, when it sends out sprays of lilac pink daisy flowers against the drab of sleeping grasslands.

Flowering continues into the middle of summer. Prefers a damp, sunny spot in loamy soil to thrive.

Cenchrus ciliaris - Foxtail Buffalo Grass (E); Bloubuffelgras (A) is a very hardy, drought tolerant, evergreen, large, perennial, tufted grass with light-green leaves.

An attractive garden plant with dense spikes of purple to golden
flowers (Aug. to Apr) followed by pale-golden spikes of seeds.

Makes an excellent pasture grass and still looks lush and dense with minimal watering.

Eragrostis superba- Saw-tooth Love Grass (E) is an attractive evergreen to semi-deciduous garden subject with a spikelet of beautiful, large, golden, heart-shaped seeds (Sept. to May).

Sparse enough to plant in between flowering bulbs and other small grassland plants.

Salvia radula - Tongblaarsalie (A) should be planted in groups in full sun and well-drained soil to add texture andcolour to a garden bed.

Makes a great addition to a cottage-style garden and rockery or meadow garden.

Large,quilted, aromatic, grey-green leaves and luminescent white flower spikes are attractive features of the plant.

Andropogon eucomis- Snowflake Grass (E); Kleinwitbaardgras (A) is a widespread ornamental grass that is easy to manage in the garden.

Glistening white seed heads are borne at the tip of reddish stems from Nov. to May.

Plant in pure stands or as part of a grassland garden. This very hardy, evergreen grass is useful as a soil stabilizer.

Gardening Tip

Seeing as our plants on special are grassland / meadowland plants, here are a few tips on creating your own grassland garden. For more information visit our website blog - Plant a Grassland Garden

  • Your grassland site should receive 6 to 8 hours of sunshine a day.
  • Soilscape the area to create "koppies" or mounds
  • Add some non-living elements such as rock and soil, and even a water feature maybe, before planting your grasses and other plants
  • Place your plants before planting, stand back, and check that you are happy. I suggest 5 grasses (weakly tufting) and 3 flowering plants per square meter. If you use strongly tufted grass/es, then use just three grasses per square meter and 3 robust, strong form plants (E.g. Scilla natalensis, Eucomis sp., Aloe sp., Hypoxis sp. and Erythrina zeyheri)
  • Once a year, (mid-May to Mid-July, but no later), cut the grasses right down (5cm of grass left) and then rake up the thatch and remove it. If needed, you can re-mulch.

On the Farm

The open garden for ‘Gardens of the Golden City’ was a great success. After all the hard work and with the rains coming at the perfect time the garden looked really amazing.

I think the people who visited really enjoyed the garden and walking around the farm and most of them stayed for hours.

It was probably a different experience to most open gardens.

The other place that was a hit with the visitors was our Mother Plant beds which were in full bloom.

Remember you are always welcome to visit and walk around the farm and do some bird watching. Take a walk and see how the plants in our mother plant beds change with the seasons. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for your own garden.

I am happy to report that after all my messing around with the habitat by removing some of the reeds down at the dam, the birds that left in disgust are now coming back.

This Hamerkop was totally fooled. He thought that the water that was running down the furrows I built to collect rainwater from roofs and paving was full of fish. He sat and gazed into the water for quite a while before leaving in disgust to stalk around the edge of the dam looking for a meal.

The Little Egret is also back stalking around the dam.

I suspected the Herons around the dam were there trying to make a meal of the Blacksmith Lapwing babies. Needless to say, I had to leave a staff member there to protect the babies.

The Wattled Lapwings also have babies and are incredibly brave attacking Abby and the golf car anytime we get even close to them.

Once again, we were fortunate enough to see the Terrapin laying its eggs. But unfortunately, the Mongoose found the nest. When I went to check the nest, I saw it had only eaten the top layer of eggs so I pretended I was a Terrapin and closed the nest and tamped it down gently. Hopefully some of the eggs will hatch and, if I am really lucky, I will see the babies making their way down to the dam.

The Weeping Boerbean (Schotia brachypetala) were covered in flowers this season. Here the Glossy starling is contemplating the feast of nectar he is about to partake of.

This Cape Robin-chat chose a most inopportune place to nest – in the bag of a Clivia in the retail nursery. Needless to say, this particular Clivia is not for sale until the babies have hatched and left the nest.

There are so many Red bishops down at the dam that I am wondering if they all find their way to the Christmas Tree for the Birds how I will keep enough food on the tree for them.

This is not to say I will not totally love it if they do and I don’t care how much it will cost in seed bells for them.

The Ficus sur (Broom Custer Fig) are in full fruit and the birds are having a feast. Even some of our customers have been eating the fruit – one just has to brave the insects in them but they are tasty.

The Southern Masked Weaver came along to the shop to inspect the beautiful bird and butterfly slates.

One of the best things to look forward to when it rains is how the Acacia karroo (Sweet Thorn) burst into flower after the rain. The beautiful golden balls carpet the tree and the perfume they emit it simply delicious. Of course, the birds and insects home in to the trees to partake of the bounty of pollen and nectar they provide.

Another of my favourite plants in early summer is the Ehretia rigida (Puzzle Bush). This tough bush bears masses of lilac flowers but this year for the first time I saw a white flowered form on the farm. Just goes to show how you can live somewhere for years and not notice everything. After the flowers it offers up juicy orange berries just in time for the birds to feast on at breeding time when they need it most.

The Erythrina zeyheri (Plough breakers) are in full bloom. They are underground trees and their common name is very apt as the stem is underground and is huge.

Talk about Huge – how enormous is this cone of Cycad seed that Mercy collected from the garden? We will now have to try our hand at germinating Cycads – we’ll see how we go.

Sometimes the simplest of plantings can be effective. Jeffrey was very taken with this planting of Crassula spathulata at Wits University gardens. Sometimes less is more.

The fungi also came out after the rain. This small mushroom that just popped out from the soil turned into a giant mushroom the size of a dinner plate. It is amazing to watch how quickly they grow, emit their spores and die.

This weird bracket fungus popped out of a dead tree trunk. At first my mom and I thought it was an old shoe but upon closer inspection found it was a bracket fungus. Nature can sometimes be weird and wonderful.

It would be really great if you could come and visit and see the Christmas tree for the birds which my staff worked so hard at building. The birds that visit it are certainly giving me a lot of pleasure and I am sure you will be fascinated with them.

Our Highveld skies are so vast, beautiful and constantly changing so look to the heavens and enjoy them. I particularly love them when they show a promise of rain like this stormy sky.

I would like to wish each and every one of you a happy holiday season. May you be safe, happy and blessed.

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