Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - September 2022

Posted On: Thursday, September 1, 2022

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I have a confession to make – I made a boo-boo with bird identification. In fact, two, I meant to type European Bee-eater and typed in Little Bee-eater but in fact it was the very exciting Swallowtailed Bee-eater, a new addition to our bird list. I am sorry and should have checked with Andre as I really wasn’t sure.

It is so amazing to see all the plants beginning to sprout their new leaves and to feel the warmer days we have been having, summer is definitely on the way, much to my joy.


We are busy preparing for, what we hope, is another good rainy season by repairing all the furrows that take the runoff water to the dam. The water rushes down so fast it has damaged the furrows after many years, and I hate losing water. It both makes the dam look beautiful and replenishes the underground water levels at our best boreholes which are around the dam.

We have also taken the time this winter to replant, replace and condition all our mother plants from which we take cuttings. The bank now looks different but beautiful and I think over time will also attract wildlife which is so important to us.

We bought 2 new tractors which were delivered this month. We have been struggling with transport but luckily with these new ones the pressure is off, and we can keep the nursery humming.

We have been cutting and baling Veld grass like crazy. We need thousands of bales of grass with which to make the vast quantity of compost we use and sell. I love watching the tractor baling.

I always have a person to walk in front of the tractor for the driver, so he doesn’t maim or kill any wildlife or destroy ground nests. The mower in particular is dangerous to unsuspecting creatures in the grass, and I definitely don’t want to kill any of them.


During school holidays from the 1st October to the 16th October bring the children along to Random Harvest where we will have laid out a trail for them to do in the nursery to teach them about indigenous trees and their importance in the environment.

They will collect a pamphlet and at each featured tree collect a sticker to add to the pamphlet. Once it is complete there will be a little gift awaiting them at the office.


Your generous donations towards the food parcels brought me to tears of joy and I wanted to say a huge thank you. Your trust in us is both touching and heart-warming.

We managed to make up 110 full food parcels and 200 meal-in-a-bag, making a huge difference to many people’s lives.

Times are very tough out there and I would greatly appreciate if you could continue with your support, it means the world to me and the recipients of your generosity.

If you are able to support this worthy cause, the banking details are:
Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.



The Swallows are back, and I am sure more migrants will have returned by the next bird walk. It is always exciting looking for returning migrants. They are a reminder that summer is on the way and everything will be green and beautiful with lots of birds and insects. A walk on the farm is always a delight with not only birds to be seen but other wildlife and plants as well. An enriching experience, close to nature.

There are also lots of tiny birds like the Common Waxbill and Bronze Mannikin around which are much easier to see now than later when the plants are in full leaf.

Date: Sat 10 September @ 06.30 for 07:00 start with Lance Robinson
Sat 1 October @ 06.30 for 07:00 start, with L,ance Robinson
Sat 5 November @ 06.30 for 07:00 start, with Andre Marx

Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a breakfast buffet – a great way to start the weekend.

Booking is essential - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143


Although we don’t charge for the coffee mornings, I would really appreciate it if you could bring a donation for our food parcels. Perhaps when next you do grocery shopping you would buy a few cans of either baked beans, pilchards in tomato sauce or tomato and onion in a can. Our food parcel drive means a lot to me.

Date: Wednesday 7th September
Time: 10h30

Topic: Spring Bulbs – all you need to know about growing and caring for them – by Mike Viviers

South Africa has a wealth of bulbs and Mike Viviers shares his knowledge on bulbous plants – their structure and how it relates to caring for them and growing them successfully.

Date: Wednesday 5th October 2022
Time: 10h30

Topic: Flower arranging with Indigenous blooms.
Jonathan will inspire you with some original ideas on how to use our wonderful indigenous flora to brighten up your home



We have sent most of our staff on this course which has helped enormously with their knowledge and confidence. All the basics are covered and gives a person a good grounding.

The next course is perfectly timed to boost your gardener’s skills and thereby help you to prepare your garden for spring.

Even members of our own staff have found tremendous value in this course, applying the knowledge they’ve gained to their own gardens.

Our new lady, Sarie, joined in with the last course and enjoyed it tremendously as she is starting her new garden.

Details for Lindsay Gray’s next courses are as follows:

DATES: Friday 9 September; Friday 28 October; Friday 2 December
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30

The cost of the course includes a set of notes for both the gardener and employer, a certificate, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival, as well as breakfast and lunch on the day.

TO BOOK or for more information including cost of the course contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or
[email protected]


Forest Bathing (and no, you’re not going to be taking a bath!) is the translation of a Japanese word Shinrin-Yoku and can be described as the beautiful practice of fully immersing oneself in the forest or in nature and experiencing it deeply with all of our senses.

Random Harvest is ideal for this slow, guided walk, with your guide leading various practices along the way to awaken your senses and connect you to the abundant world of nature that surrounds you. Backed by research, Forest Bathing reduces stress, improves immunity, reduces blood pressure, and has a positive effect on our mood. We could all do with a dose of that!

Join your guide Jen Blenkinsop, on Random Harvest’s first Forest Bathing walk on our farm. Jen is deeply passionate about nature and the environment, having been on expeditions in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. She is also a Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA) Level 1 guide. Jen is an Occupational Therapist with 30 years of experience on 3 continents.

Date: Saturday 10 September 2022
Time: 9h30 – 12h00
Cost: R320 per person including coffee/tea and homemade rusks to welcome you on arrival.


With the school holidays coming up why not spend a few days in one of our peaceful, safe cottages close to nature which surrounds you. A perfect getaway to reconnect as a family and the bonus is that there is nothing lovelier than springtime in the countryside.

As the days get longer, the weather warms up, and colourful flowers start popping up, everyone is ready to get outside and bask in the glory of the season.

We started composting our gardens a few weeks ago and everything is suddenly green and luscious, the landscape outside your window will beckon you to spend most of your time sitting outside in your own private garden.

Take the children on daily nature walks, to watch the cows being milked, dig in the compost and generally enjoy farm life. It will be a memorable experience for them.


For Chocoholics we are baking a yummy chocolate and salted caramel tart which is served with fresh cream from our Ayrshire herd.

As spring is ushered in and the birds are returning, a picnic in the garden surrounded by birdsong and blossoming plants is an unforgettable experience. To book your picnic please email [email protected] or call Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143

If you would like to treat a group of your friends to a bird walk with Jeffrey and then a breakfast or lunch, please contact the details above.

Remember Wednesdays are Pensioners Day and we serve Tea and Scones for just R50.00


We have restocked the nursery with beautiful handmade pots just in time for you to indulge yourself in gardening again.

After winter, our skin needs some help, and we have some amazing natural skin products in the shop.

Gardeners Hand Cream – R94.50
Hazels baobab products – from R47.50 to R120.00
Lip Balm with Beeswax – R48.00
Comfrey cream miraculous cure for skin ailments – R56.50
Honey and calendula moisturiser. – R 51.50

For aches and pains, we have an amazing new pain reducing cream which I have been using – Solievo Cream R128.50 as well as that miraculous African Potato Cream R110.00


The retail is looking particularly beautiful and certainly worth taking a wander around.

The Red Paint Brushes (Scadoxus puniceus) are in full, glorious flower as are the pretty Lachenalia bulbs. Beautiful flowers you can really enjoy.

I would like to remind you that we have a delivery service and for those further away we regularly send plants via courier.


Watsonia species
Hardy, deciduous (summer dormant) clump-forming plant that sends out fans long, glossy, bright green leaves in autumn, that provide contrast and texture. Magnificent, tall spikes of beautiful showy flowers that vary in colour from white to pink to almost red in spring and very early summer adorn the plant and command attention. Flowering stems are sometimes branched. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for nectar and pollen-feeding insects and birds. The lush clumps of leaves provide contrast and visual texture, even when the plant is not in flower. Lift and divide clumps during their dormant season (Dec. to April) every three to five years for best flowering. Plant in compost rich, well drained, sandy soil, in full sun.

Cineraria saxifraga - Wild Cineraria (E)
Hardy, evergreen, fast-growing groundcover with a rounded shape that roots as it goes. It has bright green, almost round leaves with scalloped edges. This pretty, delicate-looking groundcover bears masses of small, yellow, daisy-like flowers in spring and autumn, with a few speckling the plant at the height of summer. These flowers attract tiny insects that help feed lizards and frogs in the garden. Ideal for hanging baskets and borders. Grows well in semi-shade and sun. Plant in well-drained soil. Size: 15 to 20cm

Oscularia lunata - Vyebos (A)
Very hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, drought resistant, spreading, succulent groundcover with blue-green, triangular leaves. Pale pink, vygie-like flowers are borne en masse from spring to summer, with a few flowers all year round. The flowers attract numerous pollinating insects including many butterflies to the garden. Beautiful growing in amongst rocks or trailing over a wall. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun, as the flowers close in low light. Size: up to 30cm

Hermannia saccifera
Hardy, evergreen, compact, low, spreading, drought resistant groundcover. It has small, shiny, bright green, regularly toothed leaves. Masses of bright yellow, pendulous, bell-like flowers are borne in early spring and make a wonderful show. This drought-hardy plant looks beautiful cascading over walls and rocks and is beautiful in a hanging basket. Prune lightly when necessary. Plant in full sun. Size: 20 to 20cm

Stachys aethiopica - African Stachys
Hardy, evergreen, spreading groundcover with beautiful pale green, almost quilted leaves. It bears spikes of small, tubular, white flowers mainly in spring but with a few flowers almost all year round. They attract a myriad of tiny insects to the garden which provide food for lizards and frogs. Used medicinally. Plant in hanging baskets, along borders or in containers. An attractive groundcover that should be pruned lightly and regularly to keep it in shape. Grows in both sun and semi-shade in well-drained soil. Size: 25cm to 35cm

Arctotis hybrid ‘Little Pink’
This hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, spreading groundcover has attractive grey foliage that stays quite compact and neat. It bears a multitude of colourful, daisy-like pink flowers for most of the year. The flowers attract butterflies and other pollinating insects to the garden. Plant in full sun or light semi-shade and in well-drained soil and remove the dead flowers regularly to encourage mass flowering. Do not over-water and prune lightly and regularly to keep in shape. Size: 25cm


Dracaena aletriformis - Large-leaved Dragon Tree
Fairly hardy, evergreen, shade-loving, accent plant with smooth white bark and leathery strap-like, wavy-margined leaves carried in a rosette at the tips of the branches. From Nov. to Feb. spikes of creamy-white, sweet-smelling flowers in long, robust sprays are carried above the leaves. Moths are attracted to the flowers, which are particularly strongly scented when they open at night. The large, sticky, orange-yellow fruits attract birds. It grows in deep shade and makes a good indoor and container plant. Plant in well-drained, compost-rich soil. Size: 1 to 4m

Crassula multicava ‘Purple’ – Purple Fairy Crassula
Hardy, evergreen, mat-forming, broad-leaved succulent plant. The leaves are purple on the underside, making this an attractive, colourful plant all year round, even when not in flower. From May to Nov, it bears many sprays of dainty, star-shaped, pink flowers that attract a whole host of tiny insects. It makes a lovely container plant and is gorgeous mass-planted in those difficult dry areas under trees. Suitable for damp or dry spots in light to deep shade. Size: up to 30cm

Bulbine natalensis ‘Mini’ - Mini Broad-leaved Bulbine
This is a hardy, evergreen, miniature form ‘Bulbine natalensis’. It has narrow, short, fleshy leaves in a basal rosette. They are bright green to almost yellow-green and look a little like a mini-Aloe although they are quite soft. Densely packed, star-shaped, yellow flowers adorn the ends of long, flowering spikes throughout the year. They are held well above the leaves, attracting many small pollinating insects to the garden. They make a pretty container plant. Plant, in well-drained soil in semi-shade or shade. Size: up to 15cm

Pavonia praemorsa - Yellow Pavonia (E)
A hardy, evergreen, attractive, medium-sized shrub with shiny, roughly textured, round leaves and purplish stems. It bears butter-yellow hibiscus-like flowers almost all year round. Attracts pollinating insects to the garden. It is a beautiful form plant and a most attractive garden subject that grows in sun or semi-shade. Plant in well-drained, compost-rich soil and prune in early spring to keep a compact shape. Size: 1,5 to 2.5m

Halleria lucida - Tree-Fuchsia
Hardy, evergreen, small to medium-sized tree with attractive foliage and a graceful drooping habit. The bark is rough and grooved and attracts Woodpeckers and Green Hoopoes that probe under it for insects. The leaves are typically spear-head shaped and darker green above with paler undersides. From Apr. to Aug. it bears, (along the woody stems, not on young branches) masses of orange, flowers laden with nectar. When in flower the tree buzzes with life – both birds (especially Sunbirds) and insects are attracted to the copious nectar. The flowers are followed by round juicy fruits which attract fruit-eating birds and are said to be sweet and edible. It makes an excellent garden subject and is an important element of a wildlife garden. Plant in well-composted soil, in sun, semi-shade or light shade. Size: 2 to 12m

Hypericum revolutum - Curry Bush
Hardy, evergreen, medium-sized to large, fast-growing, moisture-loving shrub. The pretty, narrow, bright-green leaves are an attractive feature of this plant. Its graceful arching branches carry large, cheerful, bright yellow flowers arranged neatly along the stem from summer through to autumn, with a few flowers for most of the year. After rain, it gives off a scent of curry. Prune back to keep it looking neat. It prefers a moist, sunny part of the garden. Although it grows well in semi-shade it needs to be pruned more regularly to keep in shape. Plant in well-composted soil and water regularly. Size: up to 3m



Now is a good time to re-vamp-tired flower beds or decide on a new bed. The first thing to think about is what theme you would like to use in the bed. A few examples are a succulent bed, meadow bed, flowering perennials, or herbs. Then check what the light conditions are in the area – this is a very important factor in your choice of plants.

Once you have decided on a theme check what plants are in the bed and which you can keep to enhance your vision of what you are creating. It is also important to check the position of existing plants as it may be necessary to transplant some or plant new ones.

The condition of the plants that will remain is also crucial they will probably need pruning to shape them beautifully and then fertilised to encourage new growth. Remember some plants flower on old stems whilst others on new growth this means we need to be careful of what we prune and when we prune. An example is Plectranthus and Leonotis species which need to be pruned now to ensure mass flowering on the new growth in autumn and winter.

You would then measure the area and decide on the shape. Strong structured shapes add to the overall aesthetics and allow more freedom on what you would like to plant. My personal favourite is wild planting which if your shapes are incorrect, can look a mess but if your shapes are strong, they become a beautiful wildlife attracting bed.

Small areas require plants that remain small. If the incorrect size of shrub is chosen, within a short time it will take over the area and shade out any other plants you may have planted. They can also shade out an area and weaken plants that require more sunshine.

A good way to visualise a bed is to pour hot water into a hose pipe to make it pliable and then lay out the shape you prefer. A point to remember is to always make it a bit bigger than what you visualise as the bed seems to shrink as you prepare it, and it also gives the plants place to develop into their true beauty. Once you have decided on your shape take some flour and sprinkle it thickly along the hosepipe and take the pipe away. Leave the white marks on the ground and walk in the garden this will help you visualise the bed and if it is truly what you would like. This can be done for existing as well as new flower beds.

When you have decided is when it is time to start preparing the bed. This we will continue in the next newsletter.


This is always such a wonderful time to be living on a farm. It is busy and beautiful. The sunrises are gorgeous, and this is the first thing I lay my eyes upon each morning. I feel so privileged.

It is also an exciting time of year as we prepare for summer. My favourite time is when we start burning the grassland.

We first cut and bale the grass as I am too afraid to just light the long grass which is actually what we should do but controlling a grass fire through long grass is no joke.

We must be really careful that our compost does not catch alight. Jeffrey has become a past master at burning the veld safely.

After the fire all the Black headed Herons in the area descend to check for any roasted insects they can find.

Jeff and I are checking everyday for signs of green grass and amazingly after just 3 days the grass is starting to sprout. I can’t wait to spot the first of the wildflowers to appear.

The Aloes and succulents have been wonderful this season and the birds have really enjoyed them but as their time is coming to an end the birds and insects will have to move on to other flowers.

As you can see from this picture bigger succulents can be used in smaller areas as long as they are contained in pots.

I love the way the sun shines on the Aloes in the low light of winter. To add to the beauty, a Cape Glossy Starling visited and both of them were glowing. It is amazing how virtually every day there is something beautiful to observe in an indigenous garden.

Spring is the time for many of the Daisy species to flower and this brings a whole new dimension to the garden.

The butterflies such as this Eyed Pansy butterfly on a Gazania and bees are patrolling the Gazanias, Felicias and Osteospermums looking for a feast of nectar and pollen.

They have also done their job which is to pollinate all the fruit trees, many of which now have tiny fruit. This bodes well for the next jam making season.

A bonus added to the usefulness of the fruit trees is their beautiful blossoms in early spring.

As useful as the wildlife can be for pollination, sometimes they can cause damage - like the Speckled Mousebirds who just think we have created a Smorgasbord of Fruit and Vegetables for them to feast on. Luckily the Bird Scare tape we keep in the shop ensures that not only the Mousebirds, but we also get a fair share of the bounty we grow.

When cutting and burning the grassland we left a portion for the birds like this cute little Zitting Cisticola.

The Moorhen are nesting on the dam. They are quite aggressive, and I watched them facing off with an Egyptian Goose and a Cormorant who had the temerity to come too close to the nest. I am looking forward to watching the babies grow up.

There is really a feast of butterflies at the moment, and I thought I would share a few pictures with you. The Succulent Bush Senecio (Senecio barbetonicus) is full of butterflies.

The butterflies are really enjoying the Coral Senecio (Kleinia fulgens) as well. Ronald took a lovely video of them – click on this link above to share some of the wonderful moments in nature we enjoy here every day. 

I also thought I would share the Amethyst Sunbird feasting on nectar from an Aloe.

Happy Gardening and spring.



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