Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2022

Posted On: Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I am very excited; the roads department came and fixed our road and told us that they would be tarring it in January. Hold thumbs that they keep their word.

Another exciting thing is that my happy birds, the Paradise Flycatchers, are back at Random Harvest. Their return always brings me joy.


We have been busy finishing our winter projects. The new silt trap is finished just in time for the rain. It helps keep the dam free of silt that is carried by our water harvesting system. This in turn means we don’t have to damage the habitat of the water birds when cleaning the dam as we will have to do it much less often. We experimented with a smaller one last season, and it has worked perfectly so hopefully this one does even better.

We use hot water to heat the beds in our mist house. The new boiler for heating the water has been installed and is so much more fuel efficient, it uses much less wood to keep the water temperature perfect for the beds.

In my wisdom I built one of our filters for our grey water from sandbags. What a mistake! It collapsed and we have had to build a new one. I must say though that I am at my happiest when I have projects to do, so this is no hardship.

The one thing I hate doing and that gives me nervous twitches is when there is a problem with water.

This month our automatic pump which keeps the water tank full stopped working and so (almost) did my heart. Luckily it was just a little bit of dirt in the pump. What a relief.

The other thing that has driven me crazy is that when we water the compost, and there is too much pressure, so the water atomises into mist and just evaporated. No matter how many times I tried to teach my staff that this was a waste it didn’t make a difference. So, I came up with this idea of making a perforated pipe to water the compost. Now I have peace of mind that we are not wasting water and our compost is nice and moist.


I am so excited, St. Mikes church collected for World Food Day, and they so kindly donated it to our food parcel drive. Thank you, St. Mikes, it is hugely appreciated.

We managed to distribute 100 food parcels and 250 ‘meal in a bag’ this month. A huge thank you to our donors. You have no idea what a difference you make in people’s lives with your kindness. Thank you to Alette from Alettes Rusks for the donation of cartons of rusks.

I sent Ronald to help with the distribution this month and he came back to the office in tears to see all the people who are going hungry around us. It is not only hunger, but he found a tiny child that had been burnt and was in agony whenever she went into the sun. We sent her to the doctor who gave us sunblock and we bought UV resistant clothing. She is now playing happily in the sunshine. It feels so good to be able to give a child a little joy. (Random Harvest paid for the treatment. Our food parcel money is strictly to feed the hungry)

If you could help out with a donation it would be hugely appreciated. Our banking details are.

Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.


The migrant birds are back, making the walks much more interesting. There are Moorhen babies and Blacksmith Lapwing babies at the dam. I have had Sam working around the area to help protect the babies from the millions of crows that are around which are attracted by the human rubbish in neighbouring areas. Luckily this way the babies survive.

We have had to change the date of the November Bird Walk to

Saturday 26th November @ 06.30 for 07:00 start, with Andre Marx
Saturday 10th December @ 06.30 for 07:00 start, with Lance Robinson

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


Treat yourself (or give an early Christmas Gift) to a bird course here at Random Harvest during the December holidays.

If you are keen to learn more about birds and the birding hobby and have always wanted to develop the correct habits of identifying a bird, or perhaps need a refresher, then this Birding Basics Course is just what you have been looking for. The course comprises two sessions (each 90min) and includes a birding walk to apply your newly acquired skills.

Course content includes:
Reviewing the essential tools (binoculars, field guides, and how to navigate them); knowing the parts of a bird and an introduction to plumage patterns, bills/beaks, and the different avian foot structures.
The 7-habits methodology to develop when identifying birds and an overview of the key habitats where one can find different birds.

Date: Saturday 17th December @ 6h30 for 7h00
Cost: R500.00 per person fully inclusive of the course, welcome coffee and rusks and a buffet breakfast.

We will start with a welcome drink then a bird walk while it is still cool.

This will be followed by a buffet breakfast

Then another informative session on how to identify birds.

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


For those of you who are unable to come to the coffee mornings Jeff and I wanted to share our love of the grassland and its magic with you by offering a walk in the grassland. I thought an early start would be in order as it can get quite hot at that time of year.

DATE: 10th December
TIME: 8h00 for 8h30
COST: R75.00 per person which includes a welcome coffee and rusks and coffee and scones after the walk where we will sit with you and answer any questions you may have.

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 morning talks, could I ask you to 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 2nd November 2022
Time: 10h30

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

Date: Wednesday 7th December 2022
Time: 10h30

Topic: Walk in the Grassland
The grassland should be looking magnificent at this time of year. We will enjoy coffee in the boma followed by a walk in the grassland where we will have water and juice available for you.


Lindsay’s last DOMESTIC GARDENER TRAINING for this year will be held on the

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.

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


Muldersdrift is an area full of history and interest. A stay at Random Harvest Cottages will situate you perfectly to explore the area.

Visit the Cradle of Humankind. To think humanity started its journey nearby is quite mind blowing and a visit to Sterkfontein Caves and the museum are most interesting.

The Lion and Rhino Park is nearby for a visit to a game reserve.

As well as enjoying the botanical wonderland here at Random Harvest the beautiful Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is nearby.

These are just a few of the many Muldersdrift attractions in the area.


The Mulberry tree has been laden with fruit so we have been busy making jams and cordials.

We are happy to be able to offer you our very popular Mulberry cordial again.

I would also like to remind you that we are able to host events such as Baby Showers and Bridal Showers in the Boma.

We are also a perfect, peaceful place to host your Christmas parties.

Our yummy, generous High Tea for these functions is always a popular choice

To Book - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143


With the onset of summer, we sometimes have an invasion of pests in the garden. It is totally unnecessary to spray your garden with chemicals that not only poison the pests but everything else in the environment including yourself.

There are many environmentally friendly products that can be used very effectively that have no or minimal effect on the environment. These are the products we use in the nursery as well.

Ferramol R160.00 - for snail invasions. Remember that many birds eat snails and Parktown Prawns prey on snails eggs
Neudosan R135.00 and Bioneem R141.00 – A mixture of these two will deal with mites and Citrus Psylla
Phyta R150.00 – A plant tonic which I use as a fungicide as well. I use t his product in my seed growing section
Pyrol R199.50 – A general pesticide
PSHB Fungicidal R315.00 – Very effective against the dreaded Shothole Borer
Margaret Roberts Biological Caterpillar insecticide R352.00 and Ludwigs Spray Stay R196.00 – These two products should be used together and are very effective against the horrible Amaryllis Worm.
Neem oil Spray R70.00 – A ready mixed product that can be used as a fungicide and pesticide.


Although we are not yet ready to start with the online shop, we are getting increasing numbers of people asking us to ship plants to them. If you are a little far away from us or running out of time, contact us and we will organise delivery for you.

We can now arrange for someone to visit your garden for onsite advice. The cost would be R300.00 per hour with 1 hour credited for every R2500.00 spent on plants.

I used this picture to inspire you to pretty up your patio for Christmas and how you can do it with simple and common indigenous plants.

We are busy with our Christmas Tree for the Birds. This Christmas it is going to be all about using Local Plants in your garden.


Remember, for your convenience, we have a new truck and can now assist you with deliveries far and wide.

I would also like to remind you that we are always available to assist you with plant choices and can send you photos of the plants to ensure you know exactly what quality and size of plant you will be receiving on your sites.

The new feature on our website, a list of available plants, will be up and running in the next 10 days. There is also a feature on frequently asked questions. This will give you a list of plants suitable for your needs. We are hoping this will encourage you to plant indigenous and make a difference to the biodiversity in your landscapes.


Thunbergia natalensis - Dwarf Thunbergia
A very hardy herbaceous shrublet that dies back each winter and in spring sends up its tender green shoots with heart-shaped leaves again. In spring it takes no time at all for it to start flowering with its beautiful trumpet-shaped, sky-blue flowers that have a yellow centre. It will flower from October to March. Plant in well-drained soil in shady areas of the garden for a splash of colour under trees. It is a particularly useful size (up to 1m) for planting under trees and shrubs. The flowers attract insects to the garden.

Gomphocarpus fruticosus - Milkweed
Very hardy, deciduous perennial shrub with clusters of complex, yellow-green flowers that are borne intermittently throughout the year. The flowers are perfectly adapted for the bees’ legs to fit into them and thus pollinate the flowers. These are followed by inflated, oval, yellow-green seedpods, covered with soft green hairs that pop to release silky seeds that are carried off by the wind. It is a host plant for the African Monarch butterfly and is thus a good element for a butterfly garden.

Coleonema pulchellum - Confetti Bush
A hardy, evergreen shrub with many upright branches covered in aromatic, linear, bright green leaves. From May to Oct. a celebration of soft, starry pink flowers adorn the shrub. Bees of all descriptions love to visit the flowers, which provide valuable pollen and nectar for them. It is a lovely fine foliage at a very convenient mid-height, for a loose hedge or informal, tiered planting. Prune lightly to keep it compact. It does need well-drained (preferably sandy), well-composted soil. Flowers best in full sun.

Senecio rhomboideus
Extremely hardy, deciduous, succulent shrublet with large, toothed, pale green, fleshy, diamond-shaped leaves. It bears sprays of yellow flowers on long stalks throughout summer. The flowers attract a whole host of tiny insects to the garden which are a great food source for the birds. It has an elongated tuber which can be exposed to make an interesting and beautiful container plant. Plant in rockeries or in a mixed succulent bed. Plant in full sun.

Harpephyllum caffrum - Wild Plum
A large evergreen tree with smooth, shiny bark that becomes cracked with age. It has attractive, dark foliage with the odd red leaf in the crown. The sickle-shaped leaves, arranged in a spiral around the stem, are another beautiful feature of this tree, particularly when looking up into the crown from underneath. The small yellowish-green flowers are borne in terminal sprays from Oct. to Feb. Male and female flowers are on separate trees, therefore only female plants bear fruit. Fleshy red berries follow the flowers and attract many fruit-eating birds to the garden. This is a beautifully shaped tree for gardens and makes a wonderful street and parking area tree. Protect from frost when young.

Diospyros whyteana - Bladder-Nut
Hardy, evergreen, large, very decorative, shrub or small tree with dark brown bark and glossy, almost mirror-like, dark green leaves. The clusters of small, fragrant, bell-like white flowers are borne from July to Oct. As with all Diospyros species sexes are on separate plants, therefore only female plants bear fruit. The fruits are red when ripe, enclosed by bladder-like structures. Attracts birds to the garden. It is a little slow growing, but is well worth the wait. Very versatile, so can be planted in shade, semi shade or sun in well-drained, compost rich soil.

Agapanthus nana – Dwarf Agapanthus
This well-known tufted, hardy, evergreen perennial has narrow strap-like leaves. In spring and summer umbels of blue-purple flowers on long stems are borne which make wonderful cut flowers. They grow in semi shade or sun. It is impressive in mass plantings or borders along flowerbeds and paths. It is also a good plant for the difficult areas that are in shade for part of the year. Attracts insects to the garden and thus birds.


Plumbago auriculata - Plumbago
Hardy, evergreen, scrambling, much-branched shrub. It bears masses of edible, sky-blue flowers on and off all year round. It is an important butterfly host plant and attracts both butterflies and birds to the garden. Prune regularly to keep smaller and in shape as it can get quite wild. Train it up a trellis to make a beautiful, floriferous climber that looks particularly good when planted with Senecio tamoides (Canary creeper). They bloom together, one with bright-blue and one with bright-yellow flowers. Both grow in sun or shade.

Karomia speciosa - Mauve Chinese-hats
Hardy, deciduous, sparsely branched shrub or small tree with, two-tone, softly textured, velvety leaves. The clusters of beautiful deep blue flowers have a persistent papery mauve to pink calyx that resembles a Chinese hat. The flowers are borne from Dec. to April although the lovely mauve calyx persists on the tree for most of the year. The flowers attract insects, butterflies, Carpenter Bees and insect eating birds. It thrives in rocky situations. This colourful plant makes a showy focal point in the garden, a beautiful backdrop and screening or container plant. Plant in well-drained compost rich soil.

Geranium caffrum - Cranesbill
This very hardy, evergreen, fast-growing sprawling perennial plant has beautiful, round leaves that are deeply cleft. The foliage is grey green, and it adds an attractive soft texture to the garden. It bears masses of purple flowers with dark purple markings in spring and summer. It attracts pollinating insects and butterflies to the garden. It is a very versatile plant that does well planted on banks, in hanging baskets and containers. Prune lightly after flowering. It is at its best in full sun.

Crinum bulbispermum - Orange River Lily
Very hardy, deciduous bulbous plant with robust, grey leaves. It bears long stemmed, umbels of large, showy, lily-like, fragrant pink flowers with darker pink stripes on the inside from Sept. to Dec. Excellent for waterside planting or bog areas. Plant in sun When flowering it looks spectacular among grasses which move in the breeze with this huge rigid flower in amongst them.


We will continue with setting up a garden bed this month.

Once you are happy with the shape you have laid out with the flour, it is time to take a spade and cut all the way along the line to define the shape permanently.

If the bed is cut into the lawn, it is time to remove the lawn. It is important to take out as many roots as possible as they will regrow, especially if it is Kikuyu Lawn.

The soil of new beds is generally poor and compacted with a poor population of micro-organisms. Planting in poor soil is tantamount to trying to build without foundations. Water the soil thoroughly.

Although I don’t advocate too much digging and turning the soil as it destroys the micro-organisms, this is one time when we do need to dig deep and add a good amount of active compost. Put a layer of 75 to 100mm of compost and a light dusting of rock dust to add the essential elements. The micro-organisms in the compost will convert these elements into a usable form for the plants. If the soil is particularly devoid of micro-life you can water with Pro-Soil microbial soil solution to remedy this. Then dig the soil over to, at the very least, the depth of a garden fork. Level the soil and water.

You can now either start planting or leave the bed fallow for about 10 days for any weed seeds that germinate. You can use a hoe to remove them which is easier than hand weeding between the plants.


All the trees have been burgeoning with life and flowers and I have really enjoyed them this season.

The most magnificent trees at this time are the Erythrina latissima (Broad Leaved Coral tree). Their magnificent flowers appear before the leaves and then the almost grey leaves start showing between the scarlet flowers – a sight to behold. I pruned them in winter, so they are even more beautiful than normal.

The Mousebirds are always up for a feast of nectar.

The Acacia galpinii (Monkey Thorn) have been absolutely covered in flowers, I have never seen them with so many flowers. I also noticed their wonderful perfume for the first time this year.

We have a lot planted on the border so have been really enjoying these beautiful trees this year.

The Turraea floribunda (Honeysuckle Tree) are literally a ball of wonderfully scented creamy white flowers.

While the Acacia polyacantha (White-stem Thorn) displays its gorgeous white stem so well at this time of year. I always imagine this this is where the Hobbit should live.

Do you wonder why I love our indigenous trees so much?

The grassland is starting to bloom as well and is very exciting.

It is not only the flowers that are exciting. The other day Jeff and I were watching this Black-headed Heron stalking something. He struck like lightening and nabbed a huge rat.

We sat in fascination as he swallowed the rat whole. It gave me the shivers. That beak of his is lethal.

As I sit and write the newsletter, we still haven’t had any rain. It keeps promising and then the wind comes up and blows it away.

Yet the grassland is flowering and giving Jeff and me a huge amount of pleasure. These are a few photos of what is flowering already. I know with the first 5mm of rain it will just burst with life.

A person’s imagination can sometimes run away with them. Jeff sees this creature looking around a rock at the dam. He thinks maybe it’s a Leguaan. When it didn’t move at all, I say to Jeff maybe it’s a big fungus as its not moving. We decide to creep closer to check it out and what do we see – it’s an empty feed bag. I think we landed up laughing for half an hour at how silly we were. We still have fun laughing at ourselves. You have to admit that from a way away it does look like a creature.

We have put up our new sign at the dam that Wiebke painted for us. I love it!

Talking of the dam the Waterlilies are blooming in profusion and looking particularly beautiful.

I was so happy when the White-faced Whistling Ducks came visiting, I always wish ducks would breed on the dam but up to date we have had no luck.

As the Bullrushes grow so the Southern Red Bishop changes into his breeding colours as they use them for nesting sites. We are seeing flocks of them in the grassland. We are hoping they will visit our Christmas Tree for the Birds again this year and give all our visitors a lot of joy.

When you observe the grassland, you see will all manner of interesting insects and interactions like this perfectly camouflaged butterfly.

And this Bishop hanging upside down on a Common Spike-thorn looking for a morsel to eat.

The plants are blooming, the birds are singing, the frogs are croaking, and the sun is shining what more could one ask for in this beautiful country of ours? Just a little rain and things will be perfect.

Come along and share a little of my paradise with me.


PS: We have had a wonderful shower of rain since writing the newsletter

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