Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - January 2023

Posted On: Sunday, January 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I find it hard to believe that this is the start of 2023. I am not too sure what happened to 2022, time just seemed to fly and before you realise it, here we are at the beginning of a new year. This is always a time for new beginnings and new resolutions. I think we should all resolve to be kinder and more caring both to each other and the environment.

I believe that as indigenous gardeners we are making a huge contribution to keeping our planet a little healthier and supporting the wildlife around us. It has always been my belief that the contribution made by indigenous gardens is underrated.

The birds had a wonderful Christmas at Random Harvest, even building their nests in the Christmas tree for the birds – a convenient place to nest with minimal effort to forage for food. Feeding them may cost a fortune but my goodness! What a pleasure to have them outside my office door.


The exciting news I have to tell you, is that they came to film here at Random Harvest Tuin Toere. The interviews are in English as my Afrikaans is not too good.

The interview and filming went so well that they are airing 2 episodes on VIA Channel 147 on DSTV. We are so privileged.

The first episode airs on 2nd February 2023 and the second episode on 9th February 2023.

I hope you will watch and let us know what you think.


I was so excited when one of our customers offered us beautiful huge Cyphostemma currorii (Kobas Tree). What a wonderful Christmas present for me. They were bigger and more beautiful than I could have imagined, and we are so privileged to have two of them. They were so huge we had to hire a crane truck to bring them in.

I was thrilled to see them starting to shoot new leaves so soon. - They seem to love their place on the farm. I even had to sacrifice an old plum tree to ensure that they have enough sun. Hopefully they will produce seed next year and I will be able to grow them and offer this rare and wonderful plant in the nursery.

At last, the filter to clean the water from the cow stables is up and running. We added Super EM and I am pleased to say that the microorganisms are happily breeding and cleaning the water. There is no smell, and we have free fertiliser when we use our recycled water for irrigation. A win, win solution.

I was shocked at the size of the stump of the Acacia karroo that fell over after the torrents of rain. It was so enormous that between the TLB and our tractor, they still had a problem moving it. The stump is now happily sitting in the grassland and, as it breaks down, it will provide food and habitat for many creatures.


To my delight and heartfelt gratitude, a customer of ours who had a Christmas function here at Random Harvest’s Tea Garden, collected and brought along a large amount of provisions to add to the food parcels. I would also like to thank the customers who have brought tinned goods for use when they visit.

Words cannot express my gratitude and joy when we receive donations and provisions. They are making a dent in a huge need in the community. I don’t think there is a gift I appreciate more, or that gives me more personal joy than the donations made by you towards the much-needed food parcels.

When the staff come back emotional after seeing the need and hearing the stories when they distribute the parcels, then you get the picture of just how great the need is.

If you would like to help these are the banking details.

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



We are closed on the the 1st January 2023 but open every other day from 7h30 to 16h30


The trail called ‘Advice from Birds’ to teach the children about birds will continue until the 15th January, 2023.

They should collect a pamphlet from reception and follow the trail to collect their sticker from each station to stick onto their pamphlet. Once completed they can collect a little Random Harvest Christmas gift from reception.

The kids love this fun activity, and it helps make them aware of nature around them.


The farm and in particular the grassland, are looking amazing. A bird walk is a good excuse to take a stroll and wonder at the beauty of nature. The bonus is that you will see a large number of different species of birds, and as Jeffrey goes along with the walks, he will be able to answer any questions you may have.

Our bird list stands at over 170 species which makes Random Harvest a special birding spot.

The next bird walks are:

Date: Saturday, 14th January 2023 with Andre Marx
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Date: Saturday, 11th February 2023 with Lance Robinson
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

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 Tel. No.066 587 3143


If you would like to host a function with a difference, why not make a bird walk with Jeffrey part of it. The farm and birds are so close to his heart that he would love to host groups (Minimum 6 People) and share his knowledge of the birds, the plants and the farm with them.

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


Although coffee mornings are free of charge, if you are going to join us, 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 4th January 2023
Time: 10h30

Topic: Local plants
We have amazing plants growing here on the Highveld. I will do a slide show to showcase some of their beauty and how they can be used to create a beautiful biodiverse garden

Date: Wednesday 1st February 2023
Time: 10h30

Topic: A talk about the history of Random Harvest.
As promised, I will sit with you and share some of the stories of my Italian heritage and about how I started Random Harvest.


For The Homeowner

Lindsay Gray, principal of The School of Garden Design, will once again offer her Saturday gardening workshops for homeowners. The first workshop is on garden design, demonstrating the logical process for designing any outside space, including the practical steps and then the creative use of colour, texture, hard surfaces and, of course, indigenous plants to create a sustainable garden that will become a haven for wildlife.

The course runs from 08h30 – 13h00 on Saturday, 11 February
Cost: R850 includes course manual and refreshments. Minimum 5 persons.

Contact Lindsay on [email protected] or WhatsApp with your name to 0824499237


This recommences on 10th February 2023 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]


We are busy preparing a new Cottage, ‘Tulip Tree’. Jeff has laid out a new garden which as it settles and grows, I am sure it will be beautiful. We are looking forward to hosting our first customers in this cottage.

Our cottages have not escaped the side effects of load shedding and the havoc it has wreaked with Eskom’s supply of power to our area. Most of our customers have been more than understanding and we have tried to accommodate demand as far as possible.

The dissatisfaction of one disgruntled customer with us restricting running the generator until 22h30 and restarting at 4h30 in the morning (which I believe is reasonable considering the excessive noise and cost of running the generator) has prompted me to improve our service delivery by investigating the possibility of installing solar power. Hopefully we will soon be up and running with the new system which should help alleviate the problem.

Even though accommodation is plentiful in the area I believe we are unique as we have free WiFi in each cottage and good security making this farm a peaceful place for either leisure or business. Added to this we can provide meals from the tea garden.


This time of year, when the pace of life has slowed down a bit and our thoughts turn to family, is the perfect time to visit the tea garden at Random Harvest.

While you relax with family and enjoy our freshly prepared food and our homemade cakes the children can do the ‘Advice from Birds’ trail. After that a walk with them down to the dam to run in the grassland and do a little bird and butterfly watching seems like a perfect day out to me.


We always like to keep things that are a little bit quirky and unusual in the shop. These are a few interesting bits and pieces we have in stock.

Baobab Soap R64.50 – a wholly South African product from an unusual ‘upside down’ tree the baobab and good for your skin.
Calabash Feeders R370.00 – Your birds will be happy with these beautiful, handcrafted feeders and they look beautiful hanging in your garden.
Citronella Candles R32.50 – While you are enjoying the fruits of your hard work and relaxing in the garden you have created, keep the ‘Mozzies’ away naturally by burning one of these candles.
Eco Rat R127.00 – An effective way to get rid of rats without poisoning everything, especially the owls in your garden. Please note: This is a soft bait poison that should be used inside of a closed trap to minimize the chances of it being eaten by other animals. It is critical to follow all instructions on the product carefully to make sure that creatures that feed on rats will not be affected. It is after all, still a poison.
Microgreen Kits R72.00 – After indulging yourself at Christmas and then making all those new years resolutions about getting healthy, why not grow you own microgreens to help you on your way.
Gardening Gloves R34.00 – Now that things are quieter you will probably have time to indulge yourself in a little, life enhancing gardening. These gloves will protect your hands.


Pappea capensis - Jacket Plum

This small to medium sized tree may be a little slow growing but is worth the wait. It has a neat shape and leathery leaves with red spring colours. The yellow-green flowers are sweetly scented and weirdly they sometimes bear either male or female flowers and some years both. The furry green capsules split revealing red, juicy seeds which are delicious, and you will have to fight off the birds for your share. It is a great butterfly host tree. It is beautiful planted as a specimen tree amongst rocks but also makes a beautiful avenue tree or addition to a bush clump where it will support the wildlife that use these clumps.

Curtisia dentata - Assegai

This beautiful tree has wonderful glossy dark green leaves that are yellow green below. The young growth is velvety and covered with bronze-coloured hairs. These features make it a magnificent foliage plant. The sprays of delicate white flowers are followed by fleshy white or red fruits. As it is a forest tree it prefers a cooler spot in the garden or create beautiful containers with this tree. It makes a gorgeous upright specimen tree in the garden.

Its upright, straight growth form and beautiful fine-grained wood has led to extensive harvesting. Coupled with this is the fact that it is harvested for many medicinal uses. This has led to large specimens of this tree now being extremely scarce.

Phygelius capensis - Cape Fuchsia

Very hardy, evergreen, small shrub (up to 1m) with glossy, dark-green leaves. It bears spikes of beautiful, red, drooping, tubular flowers that bloom for an extended period, over spring and well into winter (Oct to Jul.). It attracts Sunbirds and pollinating insects to the garden. This rewarding plant is beautiful planted in a mixed border or in swathes and is also great for planting in pots and even hanging baskets, where the flowers can be better appreciated. Prune after flowering to keep in shape and promote flowering. Should the plant sustain frost damage it recovers quickly in spring. Plant in sun or semi-shade, in compost-rich soil. It prefers to be well watered and does not like long periods with no water.

Aloe hybrid ‘Little Easy’

This hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, multi-stemmed, hybrid Aloe makes an attractive scrambling shrub with dark-green foliage. It is free flowering with orange flowers tipped with yellow throughout the year. It is drought resistant and attracts numerous birds and insects to the garden. Prune back every few years to keep it looking neat and tidy. Plant in well-drained soil. It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade during the day. Size: 1m x 1m

Adenium obesum subs. multiflorum - Impala Lily

We have beautiful specimens of this semi-hardy, deciduous, succulent shrub. The Impala Lily has thick swollen branches and roots and slightly fleshy leaves appear after flowering. The large, showy, white or pink flowers with a pink to dark red border and crinkly margins are borne from May to Sept. on the bare silvery stems. The velvety pods are paired and cigar-shaped. This is an unusual garden or container plant. It needs very well-drained sandy soil, full sun and protection against frost. Do not overwater as it may rot. It is perfect in a container under the eaves of the house. My Mom made a raincoat for hers so when it rains the plant sprouts an apron.

Orthosiphon labiatus - Shellflower

Hardy, semi-deciduous, medium-sized shrub with bright-green, finely serrated, fairly hairy, aromatic leaves. The spikes of pink flowers are borne from Dec. to Mar. It attracts insects and birds to the garden. It is a beautiful shrub that can be used as a screen. It also makes a good small hedge. Prune lightly after blooming to encourage further flowering and to keep neat. Plant in full sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil and water well in summer.


Kiggelaria africana - Wild Peach

This wonderful local tree is sometimes avoided because of the caterpillars of the Acraea horta butterfly that munch the leaves and denude the tree. This is a natural process and the caterpillars’ droppings fertilise the tree and it bursts into new leaf within a matter of days. These caterpillars attract the Diederik Cuckoo to the garden for the feast they offer. Your reward is the wonderful auburn, glossy butterflies flitting around in you garden.

This is a rewarding very hardy tree that is fast growing. The sexes are on separate trees, with solitary, larger, pendulous female flowers and smaller male flowers in clusters. The female flowers are followed by decorative grey-green capsules that open into star-shaped cases to display shiny, black seeds covered with a bright orange-red aril. These attract a whole host of other birds to the garden.

Felicia amelloides - Blue Marguerite

Very hardy, evergreen, perennial groundcover or shrublet with purple twigs and bright-green foliage. It bears masses of blue or white, daisy-like flowers with yellow centres almost all year round. Attracts butterflies and insects to the garden. It makes a good ‘filler’ in the garden. It should be pruned back lightly after each flowering to encourage the next batch of flowers and to keep the plant compact and tidy. It can be grown in either full sun or semi-shade in well-drained compost rich soil.

 - Trailing Phlox

Hardy, evergreen, flat, creeping groundcover with attractive, bright-green, round, little leaves that have slightly serrated margins. For most of the year, it bears masses of small, starry white flowers that have an unmistakable yellow centre. Tiny insects are attracted to the flowers.

Use it as a groundcover or between steppingstones. It also makes a stunning hanging basket and container plant. A useful garden plant as it grows in the sun, semi-shade or dappled shade. It requires regular watering, especially when growing in full sun.


I thought I should remind you to check your trees for Shot Hole Borer Damage. The quicker you identify the infestation and deal with it the better your chance of saving your tree or trees

The picture is of the big Acacia sieberiana (Paper Bark Thorn) behind my office and its dried up shot hole borer damage. In our patrolling for this deadly pest we missed this one. I was so upset as I was sure we were too late because of the number of holes and how few leaves were left on the tree. I am not one to give up and started spraying with PSHB fungicide. I sprayed it 4 times. Luckily, I have the powerful spray machine which reached the top of the tree and the leaves that were left.

I am happy to report that the tree is full of leaves and thriving.

We blanket sprayed the trees on the farm once when we found the infestation at first. This did seem to deter the beetle as we only have an occasional infestation and spray topically tree by tree. As each year passes we seem to be spraying less and less.

We have taken over the spraying program from Mike Viviers who is now concentrating on growing rare and endangered plants for us. If you need help spraying please contact Jonathan on [email protected] or Tel. No.076-830-5242 and he will arrange for Emmanuel to come along and inspect the trees and spray for you.


I don’t know where to start on sharing with you the wonderful the things I love about Random Harvest farm - the grassland or the birds.

I have to start with the grassland which is breath-taking at the moment. Spending time there and watching the grasses move gently in the breeze, the sun glistening on their seeds and all this interspersed with wildflowers is a privilege accorded to only a few and I am one of the lucky ones.

In between, if you stop and look carefully, you see the smallest and most exquisite of wildflowers. Above you head the Swallows are swooping and the are butterflies flitting from flower to flower. In my eyes this is paradise.

Many years ago I planted two Celtis mildbraedii - a rare tree here in South Africa. Imagine how happy I was when it seeded only to see the Thick-billed Weaver feasting on the seeds.

In this picture you can see he is holding it like a parrot. I had to get my mother to sew bags to place around some of the branches so I can collect my share of seed to grow.

The Paradise Flycatchers are breeding in the gardens which are alive with their cheerful calls.

The spotted Flycatcher is flitting around the grassland near the dam.

The Pin-tailed Whydah is so busy being aggressive and chasing the other birds away from the Christmas Tree for the Birds that I am surprised he has any time to eat himself.

The baby Blacksmith Lapwings are nearing maturity. I am so pleased we managed to protect them from the crows.

We have seen Yellow-Billed and White-faced Ducks on the dam as well as some pretty scenes like a whole group of Southern Red Bishops bathing and looking like bright red jewels on the edge of the dam.

Talking of jewels this Jeff got this lovely picture of a Diederick Cuckoo glistening like an emerald in the sun.

The insects are also pretty busy especially around the hives. Judging by the number of bees the hives are thriving. They don’t have far to fly to gather pollen. We have posted an article on bee-friendly indigenous plants for suburban gardens, on our website.

The Cabbage Trees are also full of the beautiful caterpillars of the huge and beautiful Cabbage Emperor Moth. I can’t wait to see them in the garden. I guess beauty is subjective ….. these caterpillars which I think are beautiful make my mother’s blood run cold.

Another example is me loving this picture of a few species of flies pollinating the Pineapple Lilly flowers. The picture shows their miraculous compound eyes clearly.

I thought I would finish off with pictures of these two beautiful bulbs in full flower. The red flowers of the rare and unusual Scadoxus pole-evansii and the beautiful pink flowers of our local Haemanthus humilis.

In closing, I would like to thank you for your support over the years and wish you and your families peace and happiness in 2023 and may all your plants be indigenous.



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