Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2022

Posted On: Saturday, October 1, 2022

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast

The heralds of summer are calling in the garden. The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is calling his head off – I am so pleased to hear his beautiful call as last year we hardly heard him, and I missed him.

At night I am so blessed to hear the melodious calls of the Thick Knees who are also starting their breeding season.

Next on my list are the Paradise Flycatchers who should be back by the 10th October. This is my happy bird, and I can’t wait to hear the first calls of the season.


I took a huge gamble this month and splashed out on a new truck so that we are able to deliver plants far and wide to our customers. My staff and I are really chuffed with it and hope our customers will also be happy when we can offer them this service with a minimum of inconvenience to them.

We are also almost ready to go live with our availability list on the website. I think this is going to be really useful as you will be able to filter the plants you need for specific situations such as water, shade, local plants etc. It is user friendly, and you will be able to request a quote. Exciting times!

We had to cut a branch so that our new truck could fit under the trees into its parking space. I am always amazed at the bravery of the staff of Brands Tree Fellers when they work so high up. It gives me the Heebie-jeebies just to watch them. The tree is so huge you have to look carefully on the top left hand corner to actually see him.

One of my customers said that I would never be happy unless I had the smell of cement in my nostrils. Once again, we have had to build – the old filter pond for our black water (which I did on the cheap with sandbags – never again) collapsed and we have had to build a new filter. There is always something going on to keep us on our toes.


I feel so blessed that with your unfailing generosity we are able to continue with our food parcel distribution. Once again, we managed to put together 100 food parcels and 200 meals in a bag. You have contributed so generously that at the moment we are getting together provisions for another 100 food parcels and an amazing 400 ‘Meal in a Bag’.

Words can never express my deep appreciation and the appreciation of the people you are helping with your amazing contributions. All I can say is ‘Thank you, Thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.

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


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. It is a fun activity designed 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.


The dawn chorus has many different voices raised in the mornings, so I am sure the next bird walk is going to be very exciting. The Puffbacks have been very vocal and with a bit of luck the Paradise Flycatchers will be back and flitting around the gardens.

Sat 1 October @ 06.30 for 07:00 start, with Lance 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


I would like to thank the people who generously donated food for our food parcels at the last coffee morning – it is greatly appreciated.

Please remember us when out doing your grocery shopping. We would love a donation of tins of baked beans, pilchards in tomato sauce or tins of tomato and onions for our food parcel drive.

Date: Wednesday 5th October 2022
Time: 10h30

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

Date: Wednesday 2nd November 2022
Time: 10h30

Topic: Pruning plants to bring out their beauty and contribute to their health
Mike will give you a practical demonstration on pruning and teach you all the benefits of regular pruning of your plants.


Lindsay will be continuing with her DOMESTIC GARDENER TRAINING for this year on the

28th of October and 2nd of December from 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.

Added to this Lindsay is now offering a

Garden Design & Maintenance Course

In October, Lindsay Gray, principal of The School of Garden Design, will be offering a 3-day mid-week garden design & maintenance course.

Discover the invaluable principles of design that will stand you in good stead for all your gardening days, how to make clever plant choices, care for your garden in each season and do a plan for your garden (or part thereof).

DATE: 25th – 27th October from 8h30 to 16h00

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


We have had some really wonderful reviews from customers who have spent a few nights with us in one of our self-catering cottages. Ronald compiled this short video of some of the reviews I hope that when you read them, it encourages you to spend some time on yourself relaxing and enjoying country pursuits while the staff spoil you and attend to your every need.

To book contact Paul or David on 072-562-3396

We will do our best to make your stay a memorable one.


It is a wonderful time to book a picnic in the garden which is decked out in its spring and summer finery.

The birds are also vocal adding to the peace and relaxation of the moment. It is a magical getaway from the daily stresses of life to enjoy good food and good company.

We have put the Lemon Meringue pie back on the menu for summer especially as our lemon trees are loaded with lemons, so we have bountiful juice to use.

The weather is so wonderful at the moment that a High Tea in the garden is a pleasure to be enjoyed by all.


There are delicious treats available in our little shop.

  • Freshly ground coffee (the same as what we serve in the tea garden) beautiful coffee mugs to drink it from
  • Homemade rusks which are a favourite with our guests in the Cottages.
  • Homemade cookies to snack on
  • Homemade fudge that is impossible to stop popping in your mouth.
  • We have a lady making yummy homemade koeksisters which are frozen and will keep their crispy deliciousness in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • There are also 2 new flavours of jam, Pineapple and Raspberry, on the shelves.

We can’t only think about people so I thought I would remind you of the importance of water for the birds in your garden. At this time of year, it is quite dry, and they will appreciate a grindstone of water to drink and bathe in, especially while they are so busy in breeding season.


It is an exciting time for us as we are busy setting up an online shop. This is a huge learning curve. Life has many surprising coincidences, it seems as if the message is out there even though we are not ready to go live on the website and are starting to get orders from around the country for plants, seeds and bird feeders. Wonderful!


Jeffrey and the rest of my staff have re-packed the nursery and it is looking amazing, well worth a visit.

The inspiration for this month could be for those of you with tiny gardens or balconies. Here is a picture from one of our balcony gardens some while back, to kick start your ideas. As you can see, one can still enjoy gardening in tiny areas. It is amazing how much enjoyment of plants and things growing you can get out of these small spaces.

Having a balcony that you can turn into your own private, peaceful space is a real game changer in an apartment. Your balcony railing can even be used to hang a few planters to start growing a little herb garden. And if you and your family just want to enjoy dinner under the stars, set up a table and chairs and relax.


The Vygies and Pelargoniums are looking so fantastic at the moment that I thought I would share some pictures of the various ones in flower.

The Vygies, with their glistening, shining flowers are a joy to behold. Even more fascinating is the number of insects that are visiting the flowers. This alone allows for hours of pleasure just watching them going about their business.

The Drosanthemum hispidum (Hairy Dew Flower), in particular, are almost quivering with the number of bees feasting on the pollen and nectar they offer. Unlike most Drosanthemums it is long flowering.

Many of their leaves are really interesting to observe as they have so numerous adaptations to the dry areas where they grow naturally. Many of them with glistening silvery hairs that shine in the sun, and some have silvery crystals on the leaves to help prevent animal predation. Both of these characteristics help to keep the plants cooler and prevent excess water evaporation.

I love the stripey flowers of the Ruschia lineolata. Taking time to really look at the flowers is always rewarding, it highlights the wonders of nature and all its intricacies.

Vygies are colourful, rewarding, water wise plants for full sun as the flowers only open in sunlight. Many of them are very useful for stabilising banks as they will root as they spread, thereby holding onto the topsoil and preventing erosion. They do very well in containers and will grace a rockery with their lovely leaves and beautiful flowers.

The other plant species I would like to highlight as they are looking so amazing at the moment are the many Pelargoniums.

This is an essentially a Southern African plant with 90% of species occurring in South Africa and Namibia.

To think that the balconies in European cities are graced with beautiful hybrids of Pelargonium peltatum from here goes to show how our Flora is appreciated by most people in the world. We are truly blessed here in this tiny tip of Africa.

Pelargoniums need well-drained soil with very little additives to thrive. Although many of them originate in winter-rainfall areas they do well with summer rain if the soil is well-drained and not too rich.

There are so many types from large bushes, to climbers, groundcovers, succulents and geophytic (bulbs and rhizomes) plants. This leads to them being very useful as garden subjects. Many of them have wonderfully scented leaves and are even edible.

The markings on the flower petals are there to guide insects in to collect pollen and nectar and at the same time do the job of pollinating the flowers.

One of the larger shrubby Pelargoniums is Pelargonium cucculatum (Hooded-Leaf Pelargonium). Another large one is Pelargonium quercifolium (Oak-Leaf Pelargonium) of which there are many cultivars.

Two of the Pelargoniums that can be trained as climbers or are beautiful tumbling down walls are Pelargonium peltatum (Ivy-Leaved Pelargonium) and one of its many cultivars ‘Sophies Choice’. They make particularly beautiful floriferous container plants and look wonderful on balconies.

The almost black flowers of Pelargonium sidoides (Black Pelargonium) contrast beautifully with its grey leaves. It is a gorgeous ground cover type that has many medicinal uses.

The unusual Pelargonium gibbosum (Gouty Pelargonium) is one of the succulent Pelargoniums and gets its common name from the swollen bases to the stems. It is beautiful with its pale grey-green leaves and clear yellow flowers.


Ehretia rigida (Puzzle Bush). This extremely hardy, shrub bears masses of pretty lilac flowers along its arching branches in spring. They then produce orange berries which the birds feast on, even seed eating birds like this Thick Billed Weaver find them irresistible. Its unusual, tangled shape is attractive. It makes a good addition to a bird garden or bush clump.

Dietes iridoides (Shade Dietes) This pretty is a evergreen plant with strap-like leaves and lovely white flowers with purple and yellow markings. It only grows to about 30cm which is useful as a border plant in shady areas. It is also ideal under deciduous trees as it can also grow in quite a sunny position.

Freylinia tropica (White Honeybell Bush) This is an extremely hardy and drought resistant shrub that has bright green leaves and bears masses of white or blue flowers. As it is quite contained it can be used as a screen in smaller gardens, trimmed into a neat hedge and makes a pretty container plant as it flowers for most of the year.


I would have liked to continue with the article about designing a garden bed but when I committed myself to do this, I had forgotten that the dreaded Shot Hole Borer starts moving around and breeding in spring so thought I should remind you of what to do.

It is the fungus that the beetle plants to feed its larvae that is deadly to trees not the beetle itself. The fungus needs to be dealt with as early as possible, as untreated trees will eventually die.

There have been many solutions suggested but the only one I have found to work is the PSHB Fungicide which has the added benefit of being totally environmentally friendly and is not of concern to people, children, fish, birds, bees and pets.

This is what I am using here at Random Harvest to protect and save my precious trees. The picture with this article is of one of my Paperbark Acacias (Acacia sieberiana) which I am not sure how we missed, but it was badly infected, and I thought we were going to loose the tree. I’ve included this image to show how bad it was. The strings you see are crystallised sap from the old infection, and I’m happy to report that the tree is now thriving. You can see it behind my office.

The same people have formulated a spray that enhances the growth rate and immunity of the trees it is sprayed on. We will be conducting trials at Random Harvest and other areas this Spring on existing infected trees, to ascertain its efficacy in preventing re-infection and maintaining the health of the tree in the face of an existing infection – watch this space for updates.

It seems that once the trees have been sprayed with PSHB the beetles avoid the tree for a good few seasons.

I have my staff patrolling our trees at the moment so we can start spraying and I think you should do the same in your gardens. Remember to look for gum oozing, wet patches, mealie meal looking powder on the bark

Mike is looking after my trees and can help you with the health of your trees as well. Contact him on Tel. no. 082-721-2478 or email [email protected]. If you would like to try and sprays your own trees we can supply PSHB Fungicide.


I am sure my staff are happy we have finished burning. Lugging the firefighting tank around is hard work but absolutely vital to being able to control the fires.

This is such an exciting time on the farm If you think how recently we burned the veld, it is exciting how the grassland is responding even although it is still quite black.

I had to share these pictures of the Acacia robusta.

You can see from the pictures why it is called the Splendid Thorn. It is spectacular at this time of the year and smells absolutely wonderful. The birds and insects are also rejoicing in the blooms.

Jeff and I have been in competition to see the first wildflowers popping their heads up in the grassland. I take Jeff to the area I am sure we are going to see them, and much to my disgust he beat me and spotted the first flower - a Ledebouria cooperi. Then the competition was on!

I was really happy to beat Jeff to spotting the Moraea thompsonii.and the Gazania krebsiana.

He is convinced I am checking on the weekends just so I can show him up and spot the wildflowers before him. We are having a lot of fun.

This picture illustrates the ongoing war between the grassland and the invasion of trees onto it. Grasslands’ main defence is fire and if you see the number of Acacia seeds that have fallen in the grassland one realises the importance of fire in destroying most of them. If all of them germinated and grew, in no time the trees would shade out the grass.

The birds are busy with their breeding season and the Moorhens hatched four babies. They are so cute and so cheeky. We have posted a short video for you to enjoy. Needless to say I have posted a staff member to protect them from Crows and Herons.

The Blacksmith Lapwings are nesting near the edge of the dam. When I see the male with his spindly legs acting as security it makes me smile. I can’t wait for the babies to hatch out. The other Lapwings are busy sectioning off their own territories in the grassland, so we are looking forward to lots of chicks.

The Egyptian Geese are nesting on top of the tank in the garden. I dread their babies having to drop off from such a height.

The Southern Masked Weaver have also hatched babies. Luckily this miniscule baby that was about to fall out the nest had a good parent who rushed to push it back into the nest. What a relief!

I was amazed to see a Pintailed Whydah in full breeding plumage so early in the year. I think this is because we have been seeing a lot of Common Waxbill around and it is their main host as they are a brood parasite.

Jeff spotted a Black breasted Snake Eagle overhead – an exciting new addition to our bird list. We have been so fortunate to have the Fish Eagles still in the area and are able to hear their wonderful calls.

The Clivias have been stupendous this year and many people who have visited have been in awe.

The Carissa bispinosa (Forest Num Num) are in flower at the entrance to the nursery. It is wonderful to see the butterflies feasting on the nectar.

At this time of year, the rare and spectacular Erythrina acanthocarpa (Tamboekie Thorn) are in flower. It is always something to look forward to at this time of year. One thing I love about living on a farm is that you are in tune with seasons and are able to look forward to wonderful moments such as the budding of this plant.

We had problems with the generator, so Jeff stayed late and we took the opportunity to go to the dam just before it got dark and Lo and Behold the most beautiful moon rose above the horizon. We were completely blown away by how peaceful it was and how beautiful the moon was.

Hope you visit soon and also enjoy watching the cows.



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