Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - January 2020

Posted On: Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Can you believe it is already the dawning of a New Year? I am not too sure what happened to 2019 but I guess time flies when you are having fun.

In The Nursery

The Christmas tree for the birds has been a big hit with both the birds and the customers. These are a few of the visitors.

Our newly received range of Fibre Cement Pots are well priced and versatile.

They will suit just about any garden style.

You can paint them any colour and use any paint technique to suit your garden theme.

In The Shop

We have some super items for sale in our little shop this month.

Spoil yourself, a friend or your garden.

  • Bird scare holographic tape – we use this very effectively on our seedlings and cuttings beds. It works very well, deterring most birds from the fruit trees (we’ve had fruit on my mother’s fruit trees for the first time in years). R85.00 for 150 meters
  • Wooden saucer and mug – One of my favourites – with the amount of time I spend on my computer, a mug with its own wooden saucer / coaster would be in constant use! Mug with bird motif R95.00 and saucer R95.00
  • If you want to up the spend on someone special, include a bag of our very own brand of coffee. Available in ground form or as whole beans. R75.00
  • Cloth bags with lovely designs made by Happy (the name suits him down to the ground) are a very handy size. A steal at R370.00
  • Super EM R125.00, EM Health Booster R132.50 and EM Pro-Soil R95.00 are all in stock at present. They really do work wonders. Effective micro-organisms are an essential ingredient in healthy systems, whether the garden, house or our own bodies.
  • Metal Straws are a great way to reduce plastic waste. 3 Straws including cleaning brush R110.00
  • Our January book of the month is ‘Making the most of Indigenous Trees by Fanie Venter’ R375.00


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, January 8th 2020
Topic: Grassland beauty – stroll and chat
The grassland is looking so amazing I thought it would be best if we swopped the Coffee morning talks so you can enjoy a stroll through the grassland and share my joy.

Date: Wednesday February 5th 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.

Saturday, January 25th 2020 – Andre Marx
Saturday, February 15th 2020– Lance Robinson

Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 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 details and to book your place. Follow us on Instagram for regular reminders of what is on at Random Harvest Nursery.


Did you know that we have a Facebook page for our cottages? It’s Random Harvest Bed and Breakfast, and we post some interesting bits and pieces about our eight 4-star cottages here. Like our page and follow us to keep up to date.

Here’s a little bit of news from our cottages in December:

Our junior visitors have been enjoying a peaceful and exciting sight of our new calf grazing, nosing around and enjoying its mother’s company.

One of our lovely, regular B&B guests agreed to have her picture shared on social media. She looked so happy enjoying the peaceful surroundings of Wild Olive Cottage. We hope the rest of the stay was as enjoyable.

We have been busy renovating the bathroom of one of our large standalone cottages (Lavender Tree). A new shower has been installed.

Gardening Tips

Spring cleaning shouldn’t be confined to inside the walls of your house.

Cleaning out and freshening up the garden does wonders for the appearance of your property, as well as making one aware of all sorts of challenges and delights.

  • Prune shrubs and tree branches back where they obscure lights or views of areas that one needs to have visible from a security point of view.
  • After all the rain, some branches hang heavy with new growth or fruit weighing branches down. Observe carefully before pruning, to enhance rather than detract from the shape of the plant that requires pruning.
  • Dead head your plants and do a light summer prune at the same time to encourage flowering.
  • After the large amount of rain that has fallen, replenish the soil with fertiliser: 3:1:5 for flowers and 2:3:2 for strength when planting your new plants. Although the lawn will be very green after the rain, a sprinkling of 5:1:5 will help keep it green longer and make it more resilient for the long, dry winter months.
  • The never-ending task of weeding can be quite cathartic. Next time you have a long phone call with a dear friend or family member, head into the garden and pull weeds while chatting.

Plants Looking Good

Gunnera perpensa - River Pumpkin (E)

I love the “lost world” feeling that the beautiful big, round, bluish-green leaves carried on long stems give the boggy or wet parts of the garden.

It is a very hardy, deciduous marsh plant, that bears tiny brown flowers on a densely packed, gracefully-drooping spike from Sept. to Feb.

Sun or semi-shade in damp to moist soil.

Eucomis zambeziaca - White Pineapple Lily (E)

Create a stunning container planting, or interesting cameo in the rock garden with this hardy, deciduous, rare, bulbous plant.

It has a rosette of attractive, broad, strap-like leaves with wavy margins.

During summer, it bears cylindrical spikes of glossy, white flowers with a tuft of green leaves on top, similar to a pineapple

Ornithogalum ssp.

‘Tiny Peddie’ is a delightful, evergreen, bulbous plant with a tuft of glossy, grass-like leaves arising from small bulbs that multiply.

From Oct. to Mar.it produces spikes of pure-white, star-like flowers that are almost translucent and look like they were made just for a fairy garden.

A beautiful plant for sunny / light semi-shade rockeries or containers or as a border plant.

Helichrysum crispum - Mattress Everlasting (E) A hardy, evergreen, dense, very fast-growing, compact perennial with beautiful, small, dainty, silvery-grey velvety, rounded, aromatic leaves.

A lovely foliage and textural plant. From Nov. to Jan it has clusters of cream-coloured, papery flowers.

The lovely, woolly, silver-grey of the foliage adds colour and texture to a mixed border. They make beautiful hanging baskets.

A good plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil. It is useful for planting on the south side of walls and buildings where it will tolerate afternoon shade in winter.

Bauhinia bowkeri - Kei Bauhinia (E); Keibauhinia (A); umdlandlovu (X)

This plant is spectacular when it bears big, frilly white flowers (Oct. to Dec.).

A plant for a larger garden, in an informal hedge, as a backdrop or low screen or climbing up trees giving a real forested feel.

Can be pruned into a standard, the only way in which it is suitable for a small garden.

One can also train it over a frame to create an arbour. It is favoured by small birds for nesting.

Clematis brachiata - Traveller's Joy (E)

Beautiful, sweetly-scented, creamy-white flowers adorn this hardy deciduous climber from Feb. to May and attract pollinating insects.

Its many medicinal uses have earned it the name of Traveller’s Joy, although its beauty can’t help but lift the spirits too.

Allow to climb up into trees or fences, use as a groundcover or to tumble down banks.

Prune back quite severely each year to encourage flowering. Plant in shade, semi-shade or sun.

Plants On Special - Less 15% Discount

The rain has given the grassland an incredible boost, and it’s looking so amazing that I have been motivated to promote even more grassland plants in our “plants on special” section.

Bulbine abyssinica - Bushy Bulbine (E) is a very hardy (even fire resistant to cool fires), evergreen, drought-resistant, succulent plant with grass-like, fleshy leaves in a basal rosette.

Star-shaped, yellow flowers with fluffy stamens in the centre are held in densely-packed heads at the ends of long, flowering stems from Oct. to Feb., although there are some flowers throughout the year.

An important element of a grassland garden, it is ideal as a rockery or bedding plant.

Eragrostis capensis - Small Heart Seed Grass (E) is an attractive garden subject that will encourage seed-eating birds to visit the garden.

This very hardy, small perennial grass has blue-green, slender leaves with purple bases.

The flower spikes are held erect with plump, golden, heart-shaped spikelets from Sept. to May. Prefers growing in moist areas and is particularly pretty when grown around ponds.

A beautiful addition to a grassland garden, particularly when inter-planted with flowering bulbs.

Themeda triandra - Red Grass (E); Rooigras (A) adds movement to the garden as it waves gently in the breeze.

It is a 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 Sept. to Jun.

Scilla natalensis - Blue Squill (E) can be planted either as a solitary form plant or in clumps to make a show when flowering.

It is ideal for rockeries and is a lovely container plant.

Makes a wonderful display when planted with Bulbine natalensis that flowers at the same time with yellow flower spikes.

Bulbs should be planted half above the ground in full sun or light shade.

Read more about growing this bulb on our website.

Haplocarpha scaposa- False Gerbera (E) is a rewarding garden plant as it has both attractive foliage and gorgeous yellow daisy flowers.

It is deciduous, very hardy and fast growing.

It tolerates quite moist conditions and makes an attractive addition to a wetland or grassland garden.

Plant in semi-shade or sun.

Melinus repens - Natal Red Top (E) is a good soil stabiliser interplanted with other perennial grasses or groundcovers.

Use this as a lovely addition to a grassland garden or mass-plant for a beautiful show from September to June when it is full of pink and white fluffy plumes of flowers followed by seed heads.

On The Farm

I know I can carry on about the grassland on the farm, but – Oh my goodness! – it is looking unbelievably beautiful at the moment that I just had to share a few pictures of it with you.

The Doll’s Powderpuff (Cyanotis speciosa) with their pretty blue flowers have been particularly beautiful this season.

The Bitterbossie (Vernonia oigacephala) have been blooming right through that horrible hot, dry spell. The butterflies are continually visiting the flowers for their nectar.

The Pelargonium luridum are also coming into flower.

I remember how ecstatic I was when I saw the first one on the farm and now, they pop up every year, making me happy each time I see them.

Although the grass is so long that you can almost not see the Guinea Fowl feasting on all the seeds, it is, at least, still the finer grasses, so you can see the wildflowers dotting the grassland giving it a true, gentle meadow feel.

The gently waving grasses in the tiniest breeze add a magical quality to the grassland.

Being able to enjoy this comes at a cost and after every good rain my staff have the unenviable task of weeding out all the aliens and weeds.

Probably one of the best things I have done in my life is restore this beautiful space to what, in the big scheme of things, is right.

My nephew has a drone and took this picture of the dam with his drone. You can see just how much water poured in from our water harvesting system. The dam is now huge and luckily enough, even though it was pretty late in the season, the Bull Frogs arrived.

After a few days of fighting going on the eggs were laid and the tadpoles have hatched.

Jeff and I have had a lovely time introducing some of my staff’s children to the wonders of nature.

Here they are totally fascinated by the tadpoles.

I was so worried about messing with the habitat at the dam during winter and all the water birds leaving. I am happy to report that they are back. If you look carefully you will see the green-backed Heron skulking in the reeds around the dam.

I wonder if he is hoping to make a meal of the baby Moorhens, but I must say the parents are really good and keep them well hidden. The one that worries me is the Grey Heron, as he is big with a dagger for a beak. When he is around the dam, I send one of my staff to go and protect the babies from him.

The Little Egret with his bright yellow feet is now a regular visitor at the dam.

On the way to the dam the Wattled Lapwings have been going crazy - attacking the golf car and Abby. It is because they have these cute babies. They are unbelievably good parents and their babies are nearly ready to go out into the world on their own.

Jeff and I were so excited when we saw this European Bee-eater sitting on the fence. It is not often we see Bee-eaters so we were really excited. They have been hanging around for a few days and I hope that when we do the Bird Walk he will still be there for you to see.

This Pin-tailed Whydah took advantage of where the staff cut the fodder for the cows and landed on the ground to feast on the seeds of Eragrostis curvula.

The water feature in the retail nursery is a favourite place for the Cape White-eyes to drink and bathe. Keep a look out for them when next you visit. These tiny birds are endearing to watch.

A single Red-Billed Quelea arrived at the Christmas Tree for the birds. After having a good meal he left. I am pleased he didn’t send the message to the rest of his flock that there is free food. This would have cost a fortune.

If ever you wondered where I got my love of plants from, this picture speaks volumes.

My mom had to protect the beautiful succulents a customer gave us from too much water.

She made rain-coats for the smaller one and bought an umbrella for the bigger one.

How is that for the love of plants?

The most amazing bracket fungi appeared after the rain. I thought you may enjoy these pictures.

This fat puffball also appeared in the grassland.

I, in my infinite wisdom, hired a machine and fixed the road just before the rain. Needless to say, it turned into a river of mud and when it dried up is was a mass of potholes. My staff spent days filling in pot holes and picking up stones. How is that for bad timing?

We had fun with water again!! We have been living here for 50 years and now all the old galvanised pipes are starting to leak.

The plumber is making a fortune out of us. We had to dig in a new main line. Luckily my staff are so willing to do the hard graft.

I thought I would share this lovely picture of one of my favourite trees on Random Harvest.

It is Acacia polyacantha (White-stemmed Thorn).

It is so huge with lots of folds and crevices it looks like the Faraway Tree or a place the Hobbit would live. I just love it!

This Ochna natalitia (Natal Plane) is completely out of synch. The seeds of the other Ochna’s have already germinated when this one decided to flower again with an unbelievable mass of flowers. What a bonus to see these beautiful flowers over again.

I have been trying to get cuttings of the Scabiosa but with no luck as they just keep on mass flowering and not producing cuttings. In desperation Confidence, who looks after my mother plants, had the unenviable task of pruning them one flower at a time.

I am happy that it seems to be working as I think everyone should have this flower in their garden in order to enjoy both the flowers and the masses of butterflies that visit it.

I would like to wish you a very happy and peaceful 2020 and may all your plants be indigenous.

I would also like to invite you to spend some time with us on this beautiful farm and maybe enjoy a tasty home-made meal whilst just contemplating the universe and taking time out to just be.


Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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