Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - February 2023

Posted On: Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

This has been the strangest summer – we have gone from thinking we live in England with the rain and cloudiness back to the heatwave of a true African summer.    

I have really loved the downpours and watching the water rushing down the furrows we made to collect the runoff from the nursery and paving all the way down to the dam in the far corner of the farm.

Even the seeds have been confused by the weather with some of them germinating like never before and others thinking ‘what is this’ and not germinating at all.  One thing is that growing plants will always keep you humble as just when you think you know something the plants say, ‘excuse me, you know nothing’.  This is what makes the job I do so endlessly interesting.


With all the rain the road has taken a beating.  My staff have been so dedicated to fixing it with the limited machinery we have and have done a great job.

You can imagine with the amount of rain how the weeds and grass have been growing.  My big tractor had, much to my disgust, a breakdown just when we are so busy.  Luckily the small tractors I bought are powerful enough to pull and drive the mower.   This has been a big help in keeping the farm tidy.

It seems that, at long last, I have our sewage and water reclamation working properly.  My staff are happy that the digging has stopped.  The last thing I need to do is complete the final filter, hopefully this will be the end.

Random Harvest Nursery on Tuin Toere 

I thought I would remind you that the programs about the Tuin Toere episodes on Random Harvest will be airing on 2nd February 2023 and the second episode on 9th February 2023.


I am so excited …. Bruce Stead has donated the last 100 copies of his marvelous garden design book to be sold and all the proceeds to go to our food parcel drive.    This is extremely generous of him, and it will make a significant addition to our funds.

It is an opportunity to obtain your copy at a discounted price before it goes out of print. I think it is an excellent design book that is easy to read and makes your ideas easy to implement in the garden.

Bruce will be with us for 2 Saturday mornings in April (I will confirm dates next month) when he will sign the books and answer your questions.  

Our customers have been generous with donations of non-perishable and tinned food when they visit and a few of them who have had functions have encouraged their guests to bring food along.  This has gone a long way and for this generosity I am truly grateful.

I will be putting a basket out in the nursery where you can drop any donations of food you would like to assist with.

I would be so happy and appreciative if you were able to donate and help keep this worthwhile cause ongoing.

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



Start your weekend by joining a bird walk on the farm.  You will be able to forget the stresses of life and commune with nature for a while.  You will also learn about the birds and Jeffrey who joins the walks, will be able to share his knowledge of the plants as well.
The next bird walk is:

Date: Saturday, 11th February 2023 with Lance Robinson – a raptor expert who identified this Long Crested Eagle flying over Random Harvest
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 Paul on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or Tel. No.066 587 3143


The bird walks that Jeffrey leads have been a thrill for the customers who went with him, as he is not only knowledgeable about the birds but has intimate knowledge of the workings of the farm and the plants as well.

We had customers booking early morning walks as well as customers who enjoyed a picnic and then went for a late afternoon walk.

If you would like to host a function with a difference, we can offer a buffet breakfast for morning walks or a picnic lunch for afternoon walks.

Walk with Buffet Breakfast R175.00 per person (Minimum 6 people)
Walk with Picnic R215.00 (Minimum 6 people)

Booking is essential - please contact Paul 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 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.

Date: Wednesday 1st March 2023
Time: 10h30 
Topic: Local Plants – an illustrated talk by Linda De Luca (part 2)

This will be the second part of the slide show about local plants as we only managed to cover trees and shrubs in Part one of this interesting subject.



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]


Our cottages are a perfect place to catch up with work, especially if you work from home as we have free WiFi in all the cottages.  We have many people who enjoy working in a peaceful, safe environment that is clean and well maintained.  When taking a break take a stroll through the gardens and the various habitat types we have created and enjoy the sounds of nature and do a little bird watching to recharge.

One of our guests said we are not a Bed and Breakfast but a lifestyle lodging place.  

We are ideally placed to enjoy the many attractions that this area has to offer such as:
- Shepherd’s Fold Stable - Horse and Pony rides – 9km
- Cradle Moon - boat cruise and game drive – 6km
- Happy Islands - water slides, lazy river and more water activities – 1km.


We have been working on some different cake recipes for you to try next time you visit and came up with this delicious Chocolate Brownie loaded with nuts and topped with cream and chocolate dipped strawberries – I hope you enjoy it.

We have been busy making Grape Cordial, Fig Jam and Bread and butter pickles with the abundance of fruit and veg. off the farm and hope you enjoy sampling it when you visit.

People have so enjoyed hosting their functions in the boma and all of them are always thrilled with the level of service and caring offered by the staff.


I thought I would highlight some of the wonderful books we have in the shop.  Even in these times of everything available electronically – there is not much to beat the satisfaction of sitting outside holding and reading a book.  I may think this as I have always been a book worm and am still an inveterate collector of all books botanical.

•    The Cape Orchids R1995.00
•    People’s Plants R495.00
•    Mountain Flowers R466.00
•    Pooley’s Trees of Eastern SA R528.00
•    Flowers of the Verloren Vallei  R299.00
•    Creative Indigenous Garden Design R375.00
•    Gardening for Butterflies in Johannesburg R371.00
•    There is a Butterfly in my Garden R150.00
•    Gardening is fun R184.00


I would like to remind you that we have an availability list and quote request on our website.  This is an opportunity to read up on the plants you would like to use with pictures to help for the lesser known but beautiful and interesting plants we grow.  This will help you create unique and beautiful landscapes full of life for your clients.


Another reminder is that we are now able to do on site consultations to help you with plant choices for your garden. 

We are also shipping plants around the country even though our online shop is not yet live on the website.  It will be another month or so before it is formalised on the website but in the meantime let us know what you are looking for and we will use one of the efficient courier services available.  Send requests to [email protected] or give us a call for assistance.


Cyanotis robusta This fast-growing perennial has clusters of fluffy pink to purple flowers in the nodes along the stem.  It bears flowers almost all year round.  You would need to find the time with fewest flowers to prune it to keep it looking its best.  It is hardy and looks beautiful growing in amongst rocks or even in hanging baskets.

Eucomis comosa - Slender Pineapple Flower 
Very hardy, deciduous, bulbous plant with a rosette of attractive, broad, strap-like leaves with a maroon cast.  The spikes of sweetly scented, pink or maroon, star-shaped flowers with attractive, purple ovaries are borne from Oct. to Feb.  An excellent garden plant that looks particularly good amongst grasses. It also makes a good, long-lasting cut flower.  It grows best in full sun, in either damp or dry spots. Natural Habitat: Swamps on grassy hillsides

Cyphostemma lanigerum - Wild Grape 
Very hardy, deciduous, bushy perennial that has climbing stems which help it to climb between other plants.  The big, compound leaves have scalloped edges and are covered with hairs. The delicate, flat-topped spikes of greenish-yellow flowers are borne from Dec. to Feb. and give the plant a lacy look.  These are followed by showy bunches of fleshy, red berries which turn black when ripe and attract birds to the garden.  It looks beautiful draped over rocks or in a large hanging basket. Plant in a rockery or as an attractive container plant in light shade or sun.

Euphorbia woodii – This rare succulent is one of the ‘Medusa’s Head’ Euphorbias.  It is found mainly in coastal areas where it thrives in moisture laden winds.  It grows from a large fleshy root and has radiating and ascending branches.  This is a particularly attractive succulent plant especially when in flower.  It makes a strikingly beautiful container plant and is also effective when a few specimens are planted together in a rockery.  Plant in well-drained soil.

Hibiscus pedunculatus – Forest Pink Hibiscus
A really pretty shrub for semi-shade to shady areas although it does need  little sun during the day.  Its delicate, dainty look belies the fact that it is hardy and easy to grow.  From Oct. to May the delightful, large, pale pink, hibiscus-like flowers are borne on long stalks.   The abundant pollen offered by the flowers attracts insects while Charaxes butterflies use it as a host plant.   Group a few together for a gorgeous display or plant in amongst other shrubs as a border or screen where the flowers peeping through the other shrubs, give the border a whimsical look.  Prune regularly and quite hard to keep it in shape as it can become woody at the base. 

Schotia brachypetala - Weeping Boerbean 
This magnificent iconic tree hardly needs anintroduction.  Its massed bunches of cup-shaped, nectar filled scarlet flowers turn the tree red and make it unmistakeable.  They have so much nectar that it drips from the flowers (not a good tree to park a car underneath).  The nectar, of course, in turn attracts all manner of birds.  Some, like Sunbirds, will sip the nectar. Others, like Weavers, will make holes in the bottoms of the flowers and rob them of their nectar without pollinating them.  The flowers also attract a whole host of insects.  Added to this its foliage is bronze when it first unfurls and then turns to the apple green of spring and then the dark green of summer.  In winter it shows off the beautiful architecture of its branching patterns.  It is only suitable for larger gardens but grows well in containers for smaller gardens where its size can be controlled.


Bauhinia tomentosa - Yellow Bauhinia     
This is one of my favourite flowering shrubs it is fast growing and drought resistant.  The only things it needs is to be pruned once or twice a year to keep it in shape.  Its lobed leaves look like butterfly wings.  In summer it bears masses of lemon-yellow, bell-like flowers with a purple blotch at the base of one petal.  Added to this beauty, it is the host plant to the Orange Barred Playboy butterfly.   It attracts pollinating insects, which in turn draw insectivorous birds.  It looks good planted in a mixed shrubbery or as an informal hedge or in a container.  Plant in full sun or partial shade.

Tecoma [=Tecomaria] capensis - Cape-honeysuckle 
One of our best known flowering shrubs that is colourful and fast growing.  It bears beautiful, large spikes of funnel-shaped orange, yellow, red or tangerine flowers from early spring, throughout summer and into winter.  They attract Sunbirds, other nectar feeding birds, bees and butterflies to the garden.  This plant can be trained into a standard, used as a screening plant, clipped into a formal hedge or simply used as a beautiful shrub.  It needs pruning back in winter to keep it looking its best and to encourage flowering.   If left unpruned it becomes a large rambling shrub. The yellow form is probably the most compact and contained.

Lampranthus spectabilis - Trailing Ice Plant 
Hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, drought-resistant, succulent plant that forms a dense, trailing carpet of finger-like, succulent, grey-green leaves.  It makes a colourful addition to a succulent bed when it bears its glistening, pink to purple flowers that light up a sunny corner of the garden.  They bloom in early spring and early summer and attract pollinating insects to the garden.  The butterflies flutter around, sipping nectar from the flowers.  This plant looks beautiful growing in amongst rocks or trailing over walls.  


Why gardening with nature instead of against it is so important.

We are bombarded daily by chemicals and air pollution.  Can you imagine what it does to our health and to nature and all the creatures around us?

It makes no sense to spray every living thing in your home and garden with poison, but you will be surprised at how many people do just that without a second thought.  All one has to do is to look at the size of the chemical industry that supplies homes and gardens to be convinced of this.

If we paused to read the container labels we would probably be horrified at the possible and in many cases, probable, side effects of the ingredients.  It behoves us to be a bit more discerning and select the environmentally friendly alternatives to the benefit of both us and the creatures that inhabit our spaces. 

As we gain ever-increasing insight from research done into the complexities of how the natural world works and benefits us, we should be conserving everything down to the tiniest microbes to ensure a healthy environment.  The benefits to our state of mind and health are huge.  To sit in a garden full of life is to relax and let the stresses of modern life melt away.  Listening to the sound of birdsong and insects buzzing around us makes the hard work of creating an ecologically sound garden well worth it.  


Lots of exciting things have been happening on the farm this month.

The most exciting was when Andrew Hankey and Tony Costa visited our grassland.  They were both impressed with what Jeffrey, my hard working staff and I have done there.  There are some areas which are now climax grassland. 

They taught Jeff and I so much about grasslands.  Jeff was clever enough to video them so we have lots of information we now need to digest and we can now do so in our own time.

In the few hours that they were here they identified 135 species of plants with more to come.

There is Paspalum sp. in the grassland which is exotic although not invasive.  Tony suggested I let the cows graze for a few days as this is a palatable grass for cattle.  No luck with that - I am not letting them trample our grass land so now my staff are ‘Grazing’ the Paspalum

The amount of rain cascading into the dam increased the size by at least two thirds.  

We had an old furrow which my Mom made about 50 years ago to catch the water running off the road.  It hasn’t carried water for a long time as there was not enough rain and the furrow is not built, but just a depression in the grassland leading to the dam.  But with the downpour we had this flowing strongly – exciting.

The dam was so big that it was difficult to see detail on the far side.  I saw this glistening black thing in the dam and thought it may have been a Leguaan.  Wishful thinking ….. was my face red when it turned out to be a pipe!

With the dam so full the Papyrus decided to go floating around the dam.  I was surprised this could happen as the clump is huge.  This obstructed the view of the dam and made ‘game watching’ very difficult.  In the end we had to tie it to the tractor to pull it back to the edge and secure it.  Not that the birds minded - they seemed to enjoy their floating home.

Jeff and I have been seeing these Terrapins.  We were shocked at the size of them.  They are at least double the size of any we have seen before.

I love this picture of the creatures on the island in the dam.  It reminds me of why I love going there every day to see who is visiting and what is going on.  I count my blessings to have such beauty in my backyard.

Another privilege is being able to observe that there is a second lot of Bullfrog tadpoles in the dam being watched over by the male.  Sometimes he is so still one would think he was dead but go too close and you are likely to be attacked.

The Moorhens have hatched their second batch of their cute babies and, surprisingly enough, it looks as if they are building a nest again.  I love these fluffy little creatures.

The Egyptian Geese on top of the tank in the garden hatched their babies.  

In their rush to get away from the garden they lost a baby.  Luckily, I spotted it in amongst the Clivias.  We were also lucky that Timothy, one of my staff, noticed that the parents and other baby went to the dam and didn’t leave all together.  We took the baby and reunited it with its family.  There have been quite a few ducks on the dam.  They always seem to prefer it when the dam is full.

Now that the grasses are coming into seed the grassland has many tiny birds flitting around.  The Common Waxbill are always flocking in the grassland close to the dam.

The Grey Hornbill are calling all over the farm.  I wonder if they have hatched out babies, although Jeff or I have not been able to spot any.

There was great excitement in the nursery when the huge Cyphostemma currori we transplanted last month started to shoot out new leaves and are even budding.  I can’t wait for the flowers to open.

The Shade Garden I planted is at last coming into its own with the Streptocarpus formosus and Plectranthus CV Linda blooming together with the beautiful Scadoxus multiflorus blooming behind it.   

The other stunning plant blooming at the moment is the magnificent Gloriosa rothchildeana.  This is hard to come by and I have a few seedlings from last year coming on.  I hope to get a lot more seed this year.  You have to be patient when starting new species for the nursery - it often takes years to increase the numbers, so we that have enough to sell.

The Paradise Flycatchers are still doing the job of waking me up each morning with a smile on my face brought on by their cheerful calls in the garden.

When you are able to visit and walk in the garden, I am sure they will bring a smile to your faces as well.

Keep cool.


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