Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2023

Posted On: Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous enthusiast

It is hard to believe that I am writing the March newsletter already – time flies.

I have loved all the rain we have been having and am very happy that it has replenished the boreholes, although I must say I am very ready for sunshine.  

The rain has also left me with a huge amount of work to do, fixing all the roads on the farm. It’s encouraging to see that the road in has fared pretty well since they fixed it.

They have started upgrading Beyers Naude Drive so all our signs have been removed.  If you need directions, you will find us on Waze or (if the phones are working) give us a call and we will direct you. You can also find directions to us on our website. Click here and scroll down to where it gives them clearly.

At Random Harvest there is always something interesting to see like this Glossy Starling sitting on the windmill with a mouthful of nesting material.  I question his choice of site and choice of time to think about nesting.


We are open on all public holidays and only closed on Good Friday 7th April.


I hate to have to mention things like loadshedding in the newsletter but you do need to know that the telephones have been dreadful as a result of all the power interruptions. so if you have been trying to contact us please don’t think we are ignoring you.

Our WiFi mostly works so we can be contacted via WhatsApp or email if you need any assistance. 

Talking of loadshedding we are well on the way to the installation of batteries and solar panels.  Building a fireproof battery room was a steep learning curve.

To make place for the battery room we had to build a new laundry.  That was fun and we now have a beautiful spotless laundry to be proud of.

With all this rain the weeds have been rubbing their hands in glee and giving us a huge task to keep the plants clean and weed free.  It feels like this is all we have done this season.  At least we have lots of green organic material for our compost so some good comes out of it.


From 18th March to 23rd April bring the children along for an Easter Egg Hunt.  The theme this time will be all about bees.  It is important that children are aware of the importance of bees to both our lives and in the environment.

Once they have been on the trail and collected their stickers there will be a gift waiting for them at reception.


Thank you once again for your generosity towards our food parcel drive.  A customer made a R10 000.00 anonymous donation towards this cause, I would like to say a huge thank you, you made an enormous difference – I am humbled and grateful for your generosity. I am also thrilled at the number of our customers who have taken the time to do some shopping for food and brought it along to the nursery.

When we host functions like Bird Walks with Jeffrey and parties in our tea garden, our thoughtful customers have chosen to bring food along, and instead of birthday presents, asked their guests to donate to our food drive.  This has helped tremendously – so thank you once again.

If you would like to donate food please bring along tinned goods especially Baked Beans, Pilchards and tomato and Onion.  Tea bags, rice sugar and small bottles of oil would be great.

If you are able to help us continue with this work, please make a donation - our banking details are.

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


I never thought in a million years I would sit on my veranda in Gauteng and hear the wild and beautiful call of the Fish Eagle – what a privilege.

Join us for an early morning bird walk and hopefully hear the Fish Eagle and share my joy of the moment.

The last Bird Walk was rained out, but Lance brought along a PowerPoint presentation and the people attending really loved it and learnt a huge amount about birds.

The next bird walks are as follows:

Date: Saturday, 4th March 2023 with Lance Robinson 
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Date: Saturday, 1st April 2023 with Andre Marx 
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



This month I will continue with the topic of Plants Local to Gauteng.  There are so many beautiful plants around us I had to break the talk into 2 parts.

Date:  Wednesday 1st March 2023 at 10h30

I am so excited for the next Coffee morning when Lance Robinson has kindly agreed to give a talk on birds.  He is amazingly knowledgeable and entertaining – I am sure you will have lots of fun with him.

Date: Wednesday 5th April 2023 at 10h30


Lindsay is continuing with these workshops.  They make a huge contribution to the knowledge and confidence of your gardener which will pay dividends in your garden and to the gardener for years to come.
Dates are the 17th March and 21st April 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]


Book one of our cottages for the Easter Weekend and enjoy a totally relaxing holiday without facing the traffic on the roads to far flung destinations when you can have peace, nature, good food and relaxation on your doorstep.

During the weekend Jeffrey will take you for a bird walk and a walk in the grassland and share his vast knowledge with you while the rest of the amazing staff spoil you.

Remember that our cottages are senior citizen friendly with early check-in and late check-out by arrangement to extend your holiday.  For the not so mobile we can drive you in the golf car to see and enjoy the many interesting things we do here on the farm.


A customer decided that our selection of cakes was getting boring, and we need to add a bit of interest.

Frans has had a wonderful time trying out his baking and baked this delicious orange cake made with almond flour and soaked in orange syrup with bits of preserved oranges – a light treat but oh so delicious.

He is also experimenting with Choux pastry filled with Kahlua flavoured custard which is delicious, and we hope to have it on the menu when it is perfected.

Our Boma is getting really popular as a function venue which I am very pleased about.  If you wish, you could combine your function with a guided walk on how the nursery runs, or a walk in the gardens or grassland on the farm or a talk which would be of added interest to your guests. Please contact our events team – Paul on  082 553 0598 for more information (Remember to Whatsapp if you can’t reach us by phone call).


At last, our stock of ‘Down to Earth’ Potato Plant Cream has arrived.  This has many uses, but I use it for pain in my joints.  R175.00

The new, ever popular ‘Planting Calendar, is also in stock.   R202.50

As the children are learning about Bees in their Easter Egg Hunt, we added new stock of the Bee Hotel Activity Set at R239.50 and a floating Bee Island at R250.00 to help save the hardworking, useful insects from drowning in Swimming Pools.


I thought I would remind you that our availability list and quote request form is up and running on the website – Indigenous Plants

We are busy planning a series of informative talks and workshops specifically geared towards landscapers and garden installers. Members of these industries will benefit from in depth, focused topics that can be practically applied to improve the service offered to clients.  Jonathan will be contacting our wholesale customers with details within the next 2 weeks.  If you don’t receive notification, please contact Jonathan (076 830 5242) or Bridget (082 553 0791) and we will add you to the list of people who receive invitations.


A reminder that we are now shipping plants around the country – please contact us for a quotation.


We are also able to visit your garden to help with advice.  The cost is R300.00 per hour with the cost of one hour deducted for every R2000.00 spent on plants. 


Ziziphus rivularis - False Buffalo Thorn 
Hardy, rare, evergreen to semi-deciduous, fast growing small tree with attractive glossy, olive-green foliage with interesting but quite variable venation.  It bears small, yellowish, inconspicuous flowers in Nov.which attract insects to the garden.   These are followed by shiny yellow fruits that are much sought after by birds.  A beautiful tree for a small garden which, as it grows naturally along stream banks, can take seasonal inundation. Plant in sun or semi-shade.

Syzygium guineense – Pale-barked Waterberry 
Hardy, small-to medium-sized, fast-growing, very attractive, evergreen tree with a weeping habit, that can be grown in wet areas and even in shallow water. The bark on young trees is silver becoming pale-grey and patched with many different lichens as it ages. The grey-green leaves are red when they first appear. The heavily scented white flowers with copious nectar have conspicuous, fluffy stamens and are borne in large heads on the tips of the branches from Oct. to May. The decorative, edible, shiny, bright-purple fruit turn the tree into a natural Christmas tree.  Birds relish the fruit. It is the host plant to the Apricot and Brown Playboy Butterflies.  

Strelitzia reginae - Crane Flower (E)
Probably one of our best known plants world-wide, the Strelitzia is a hardy, evergreen shrub with large, ornamental, banana-like leaves.  The brilliant orange and shimmering peacock-blue flowers have an interesting structure resembling an exotic bird, and flower from May to Dec.  The nectar attracts Sunbirds while the black seeds with orange arils attract many seed-eating birds to the garden.   This beautiful shrub makes a stunning accent and container plant.  The long, blade-shaped leaves and striking flowers are widely used for flower arranging. On the Highveld or dry regions, it grows best in partial shade.

Cyphostemma juttae - Namibian Grape 
A quite hardy, deciduous, short, thickset, succulent shrub that has a huge swollen trunk with yellow-green bark that peels off in whitish sheets.  This is a strategy to reflect the heat away from the plant and keep it cool as it grows naturally in very hot exposed positions.  It has very attractive large, succulent, blue-green leaves.  Inconspicuous small greenish cream flowers are followed by bunches of decorative fruits that turn from bright red to purplish-black and resemble grapes.  This magnificent ornamental plant needs a warm sunny position in the rockery where it should receive very little water in winter and not too much in summer.  The soil should be light and loamy with sand added to improve drainage.  It makes an unusual and stunning container plant – a real talking point. 

Aloe striatula - Basuto Kraal Aloe 
This robust,  very hardy, shrub-like, scrambling Aloe has attractive, smooth, glossy, dark green curved leaves, carried on sturdy stems.  The flowers are bright yellow or orange on unbranched stems.  It flowers from Nov. to March and attracts insects and Sunbirds to the garden.  It will grow in sun or semi-shade.  This Aloe can tolerate extremely low temperatures.  An excellent plant for an exclusion zone of a bird garden or as a hedge.

Euryops tysonii – Tyson's euryops
Very hardy, evergreen shrub with small, densely packed, leathery leaves arranged close to the stems.  These make it a particularly decorative small shrub with an upright and at the same time sprawling growth habit.  The relatively large, sweetly scented, bright yellow, daisy-like flowers are clustered at the end of the stems and are borne from Sept. to May. They attract many insects to the garden and if you watch carefully, you may be lucky enough to see a perfectly camouflaged Crab Spider living in the centre of the flower.  It requires full sun and looks beautiful in the rock garden, shrubbery, mixed border, on terraced slopes, in retaining walls and makes a lovely container plant.


Kigelia africana - Sausage Tree
This fairly hardy, briefly deciduous, very fast-growing, medium sized tree has a straight stem, grey-brown bark and a rounded crown. The large compound leaves are clustered at the ends of the branches with lovely coppery-coloured new growth.  From Aug. to Sept., it bears huge, flamboyant, dark maroon, velvety, bell-shaped flowers in pendulous sprays. The copious nectar attracts hordes of insects, birds and Charaxes butterflies.  The flowers are followed by distinctive, huge, sausage-shaped fruits that can weigh up to 7kg.  These trees are specifically evolved to be pollinated by bats but are sometimes pollinated by birds, so the chances of having this unusual sausage-like fruit in your garden are quite good.  The nectar will attract birds and insects to the garden. If the stems are wrapped for einter the first 2 or 3 years, the trees harden off and do well in cold areas. Plant in sun or semi-shade.

Phoenix reclinata – Wild Date Palm 
Very hardy, evergreen palm with shiny, light to dark green, long arching leaves that become spiny close to the stem.  The Palm swift “glues” its nest to the fronds. It bears showy, creamy-white pollen-laden male flowers from Aug. to Oct. (male and female flowers on separate plants).  The luminous orange-brown fruit are borne in large hanging branches during late summer.  The ripe dates are edible.  This is a clump-forming palm that requires a lot of space, but for smaller spaces keep it down to 3 stems and remove the others.   It tolerates wet conditions.  It attracts birds and is the host plant to the Palm-tree Night Fighter butterfly.  

Jasminum multipartitum - Starry Wild Jasmine 
Very hardy, evergreen, fast-growing creeper or scrambler with small, glossy, dark-green foliage.  It bears masses of fragrant, white (with deep pink undersides), star-shaped flowers, from Aug. to Jan.  The petals of these beautiful flowers are narrow and spidery. It bears shiny, edible black berries that attract birds to the garden.  Among its uses are herb teas, fragrant baths and pot-pourri as well as being used as a love charm.  Grows in sun or semi-shade.

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.  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.


Remember to check your trees for the Shot hole borer, you don’t want them to overwinter and proliferate in spring.  If you need assistance, please call Jonathan on Tel. No 076 830 5242 or myself on 079 872 8975.

This is the time of year to do some light pruning of your trees.  Do not cut off large branches as if THE TREE starts shooting at this time of year frost could damage the new growth.  Rather cut out all the dead wood and all the thin branches that are hanging down and making the tree look untidy.

If your trees need a good big pruning save this job for spring when the danger of frost damage has passed.

Don’t fertilise plants at this time of year as well as this may trigger new growth which, once more, may be damaged by frost and cold winds.  (I can’t believe I am talking about winter already).

An important job to do now is to give your garden and pots a good layer of mulch.  This creates a blanket on the soil which will protect the small hair roots from cold.  The, oh so important, micro-organisms in your garden will also benefit from the blanket of mulch to help them through the cold dry months.


The waterlilies that seeded themselves last year were all in bloom when we had that dry period and as the water receded, they were left high and dry.  I was very sad for them.  It was weird seeing waterlilies blooming in the grassland.

Just in time we had a lot more rain which filled the dam and the waterlilies breathed a sigh of relief and started blooming again.  Nature is amazing.

I am not sure how many fish there are in the dam, but you can see schools of them causing ripples on the surface and every now and again one will jump out.  When you sit on the edge of the dam you can actually hear them chewing on the grasses at the water’s edge.

The Malachite Kingfishers are busy around the dam, and we were lucky enough to see this baby getting fed. This means that they must have bred somewhere close to the dam, but Jeff and I haven’t been able to find out just where their nest is.

I loved this picture of the Malachite Kingfisher sitting on a reed stem.  It is such an iconic waterside picture.

Talking of waterside pictures, I loved this picture Jeffrey took of the Grey Heron, waterlilies and reeds.  It makes Random Harvest feel like a really wild place.

The Green Backed Heron is also resident, and we were lucky enough to see him stalking on the edge of the dam hunting for a meal as, normally, his is quite cryptic hiding the in the papyrus. 

The Thick-billed Weavers are also nesting in their beautifully constructed nests in the Papyrus.  I thought this picture illustrated beautifully just where they got their name as their beak is really thick in proportion to their heads.

Spiders are really amazing creatures.  They are able to build their intricate webs and huge nests like this one.  A person has to respect them.

Talking of spiders, have you ever thought about how spiders can create a little eco-system in your house.  

Even though their webs are a bit pesky having the harmless Daddy Long Legs spiders in your house is quite useful, as their favourite food is Black Ants.  Think of how much more environmentally friendly it is to have natural pest control by such an ally in your house. Connal Eardly identified this beetle as a Psammodes sp. Beetle. They get their name from the knocking noise they make by striking their abdomens on the ground to attract a mate.  

Have you ever looked at the flower of the Milkweed you see in the grassland.  Take a few moments and you will find them incredibly complex.  They are also perfectly designed to be pollinated by bees whose legs fit perfectly into the flower.

Mike is busy identifying the many Nerine sp. We have in pots and I though I would share a few pictures of these beautiful flowers.  When they go down in winter you can just leave the bulbs in the ground, and they will pop up again and flower at this time of year.  They make fantastic container plants as well.  If you can bear to pick them, they make wonderful cut flowers.

Popping up in amongst my many, many plants I have bought and been gifted over the years, came this unusual Nerine gaberonensis.  It is said that their flowers are short lived.  I can only think it is because they come from dry areas.  Here they have as long a flowering period as the other species.

You can see that Nerine filamentosa gets its name from its extremely long flower filaments.

I love the curly petals of Nerine rehmanii.

I hope with Mike looking after the collections that by next year we will have lots of new species of plant to offer you both in the nursery and on the online shop (when it is up and running - which I hope will be soon.)

This weird and wonderful Stapelia popped up in amongst my seedlings some time ago.  Mike has managed to name it as Huernia hystrix ssp. Parvula,

A few other plants are looking spectacular and in the case of the Bauhinia galpinii (Pride of De Kaap) I am sure it is because the season has been so wet.

A plant I love is Aspilia mossambicensis (Wild Sunflower) which bears masses of these cheerful yellow flower from late spring to autumn.  It is a beautiful addition to a meadow garden.

The Erythrina humeana (Dwarf Coral Tree) has flushed three times with their spectacular brilliant scarlet flowers.

 I am so lucky to be living on such a beautiful farm in amongst beautiful indigenous plants.

I would love you to visit and enjoy, even if only for a short time, what I am privileged to live with every day.



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