Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - April 2023

Posted On: Saturday, April 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

We have passed the Autumn equinox and you can definitely feel a nip in the early morning air.

As the sun goes lower in the sky at this time of year, it starts to shine on the leaves and flowers, adding another beautiful dimension to the autumn garden.


Jonathan and Bowa have been setting up our new boiler system for the cutting house.  

As usual, Jonathan and I are happiest when doing projects like this.  We were lucky enough to get the boiler for a good price and I hope it is going to be more efficient at heating up our growing beds than our smaller one that is presently installed.

We made soil mixes and turned the compost this month.  The birds love it when we turn the compost as we expose all the juicy dung beetle larvae and other insects for them to feast upon.

Heather, who works for us remotely in KZN has been up for a visit.  It is always wonderful to have her here.  

She is super creative and has given us lots of ideas of how to improve the retail displays.  She has also inspired the staff with her suggestions, and they are excited to get the retail looking special.

We are always striving to improve the arrangement and organisation of our rare plant and mother plant section and are busy building a fence around them.  If you would like to take a walk to see all these amazing plants, please call at the office and someone will happily show you around.


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


Bring the children along between 18TH March and 23rd April for an Easter Eco-treasure 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.

There is no charge for this activity. However, I think it would be a great lesson for the children to learn to think of the less fortunate, so would love it if they brought along a tin of baked beans or pilchards to donate for our food parcel drive. These can be dropped in the basket at the front of our shop section.


We are so lucky that Bruce Stead has donated the last 100 copies of his marvellous garden design book ‘Creative Indigenous Garden Design’ to be sold for the proceeds to go to our Food Parcel Fund.  


It is to be sold at the very affordable price of R200.00 per copy.  I am hoping you take advantage of this amazing opportunity, and it will also help to top up our food parcel fund which is running a bit low.

If you would like a signed copy Bruce will be with us on Saturday 8th April from 9h30 to 13h00

Please remember to think about this worthy cause when you visit and help us with a donation of baked beans, pilchards, tomato and onion.  Tea bags, sugar and mealie meal would also be gratefully received.

If you would care to donate to help feed people who genuinely need assistance these are our banking details.

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




The Grey Hornbills are very vocal at the moment.  They fill the farm with the sound of the bushveld and put a smile on my face every time I hear them.

The next bird walk is on:
Date: Saturday, 1st April 2023 with Andre Marx 
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Cost: R185.00 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 talk on birds at the next coffee morning by Lance Robinson promises to be both entertaining and informative.  Lance has vast knowledge of the subject and manages to impart some of it in a simple and entertaining way.  Bird watching is a fun activity that can be enjoyed in the veld and from your veranda at home.

I hope you don’t mind but I would like to start charging a small fee of R25.00 per person for these events and the coffee we provide.  I am doing this to help top up our food parcel fund which is running a bit low.  It is a good cause and I assure you every cent will go towards food to feed the hungry.

Date: Wednesday 5th April 2023 at 10h30
Topic: A talk on birds by Lance Robinson
This talk on birds by Lance Robinson promises to be both entertaining and informative.  Lance has vast knowledge of the subject and manages to impart some of it in a simple and entertaining way.  Bird watching is a fun activity that can be enjoyed in the veld and from your veranda at home. 

Date: Wednesday 3 May 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Aloe species at Random Harvest and their care
Aloes are such an integral part of the autumn and winter landscape in South Africa. Come and hear about the many species we have at Random Harvest, how to care for them as well as how to treat diseased Aloes.


Domestic Gardener Workshop

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.

Her last one this season is on 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]

Essential Steps to Maintaining Your Garden - Saturday 22 April, 2023 from 8h30 to 13h00

Lindsay will share sustainable ways of caring for and nourishing your garden, pruning techniques, lawn care and creating a garden that attracts wildlife that controls pests naturally.

This information will help you to care for your garden with confidence.
TO BOOK or for more information including cost of the course contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or email [email protected]


Random Harvest Self-catering units offer a safe, healing environment with nurturing and therapeutic effects on our psyche in these troubled times.  The indigenous private garden, hassle-free parking spaces, clean cottage, delicious food and a quiet, secure farm add to one’s sense of peace and comfort.  

We take pride in the number of security extras that we have implemented to make your stay safe and secure.  

With long weekends around the corner, why not book into our establishment which caters for families in a child friendly way.  During your stay, please enquire about activities for children in the nursery.


To help you enjoy the long weekends and these wonderful autumn days we are offering a special on our picnics for the month of April.   A discount of 10% will apply if booking for 4 people or more.

Mother’s Day is so busy we normally make it a Mother’s Day weekend at Random Harvest where we have a small gift for all mothers and serve High Tea and Buffet Breakfast on both Saturday the 13th and Sunday 14th May.

Our High Teas are scrumptious and generous, and I thought this would be a great way to spoil your mom on Mother’s Day. 

Both the High Tea and Buffet breakfast are by booking only.

Early Booking is advisable.  please contact Paul on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143 to book.

I thought I would share this picture of the Boma all decked out for a function.  It is a lovely space to celebrate a special event.


I was so excited when Chaplin, the man who does our beadwork brought us these beautiful, beaded Pin-tailed Whydah and Paradise Fly catcher Feeders and on a stick to decorate your garden.

It is time for the Paradise Flycatchers to leave and this beautiful feeder will remind me of how much I love them.

Remember to plant your Namaqualand Daisy seeds for a gorgeous display in late winter and early spring.

Namaqualand daisy seed R60.00 per packet

If you need to use a pesticide in your garden please make sure it is environmentally friendly.  Remember when we spray harmful poisons around, we are not only poisoning the pest but also beneficial creatures and our own environment.

These are some of the environmentally friendly pest remedies we have in the shop.

  • Margaret Roberts’s organic insecticide R171.00
  • Margaret Roberts’s Biological caterpillar insecticide R381.00
  • Margaret Roberts’s Organic fungicide R141.50
  • Ludwig’s insect spray R209.00


Jonathan has organised a walk and talk on the unusual trees of Random Harvest for our wholesale customers.  If you haven’t received your invitation, please contact us and we will send you one and hopefully you have the time to join us.

If you have a challenging site and are at a loss on what to plant, please remember that we are always happy to help with recommendations and it will be our pleasure to come out and visit your site in order to be of assistance. 

Remember Jonathan, Bridget and Sydney are always available to assist you.


We have been busy revamping the displays in the retail nursery and the gardens in the nursery area.  It is amazing how quickly the work piles up.  My staff have been very dedicated, and hardworking and it is looking wonderful.

I am sure you will love walking around and being amazed at the beauty and variety of our indigenous plants.


Berchemia zeyheri - Red Ivory 
This beautiful, deciduous medium sized Bushveld tree does well in our gardens.  It has a lovely, rounded crown and straight, smooth grey stem.  The leaves have a distinctive veining pattern.  It is deciduous and only bears inconspicuous yellow-green flowers which are irresistible to insects and bees.  It then bears fruits that resemble cherries and are edible.  These fruits attract all manner of birds to the garden.  It makes a good container and bonsai plant.

Combretum microphyllum - Flame Creeper 
The common name ‘Flame Creeper’ is very apt as this robust and large creeper bears masses of spectacular crimson flowers on its bear stems in early spring and summer.  The pale green leaves that follow and then four-winged pink seeds are other beautiful features of this plant.  Insects, birds, and butterflies are attracted to this plant.  Use as a climber or allow to scramble along banks.  Bear in mind it is a large creeper and should be controlled in smaller gardens.

Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Green Goddess’ – Green Arum 
This form of the well-known and well-loved Arum lily has a distinctive large, white and green cone-shaped petal and a central yellow column which carries the tiny flowers and pollen.  It flowers all year round except in very cold even snowy areas where it may become deciduous and shoots in spring again.   It has big heart-shaped leaves and grows very well in permanent water where it can be grown in full sun.  If planted in the garden it prefers a cooler position. Looks great in a cottage garden, in and around a pond or planted en masse under trees.  It also makes a beautiful, long lasting cut flower.  The flowers develop into a dense mass of small, fleshy fruits that are relished by birds.  Porcupine and pigs eat the underground tubers hence the common name ‘Varkoor’.

Portulacaria afra prostrata ‘Variegated’ - Dwarf Elephant’s Food This unusual form of the groundcover variety of this plant has beautiful pale creamy-yellow and green succulent leaves which are carried on bright red arching stems that add texture and form wherever they are planted.  Flowers sporadically from Oct. to Jan., after rain, when it is covered in tiny spikes of clear pink to rosy-mauve flowers - a wonderful sight.    They look great cascading down a rockery, in a retaining wall, hanging basket or planted under Cycads or other form plants.  A useful plant for binding the soil.  Plant in a protected spot in well-drained soil in sun, semi-shade or shade.  

Rhigozum obovatum - Yellow Pomegranate 
This very hardy,  twiggy, spiny shrub has small blue green leaves.  When in flower it is hard to miss as it is covered in brilliant, golden, trumpet-shaped flowers in spring or early summer, especially after rain.  
Although the bush is quite dull looking, it has an interesting structural shape and is spectacular when in flower during the summer months. It attracts bees and other insects to the garden when in flower and is browsed by cattle and game. Plant in very well-drained soil in a sunny position.  Although it can stand any amount of drought and neglect, water well in winter to achieve its maximum potential.


Salvia namaensis - Karroo Sage
This very hardy, evergreen, drought resistant shrublet has wrinkled, lobed, beautifully textured leaves that are aromatic when crushed.  From late spring to autumn the small but perfect, dainty, white to pale blue sage flowers are borne in whorls along the fairly tall stems that are held above the plant.  The lower lip of the flower acts as a platform for the many and varied insects and butterflies that visit the flowers.  Plant in a cottage garden or mixed flower bed or containers to add charm to the garden.  It requires a sunny or semi-shade position and compost-rich, but well-drained soil and should be pruned lightly to keep in shape and flowering well 

Euphorbia mauritanica - Golden Spurge 
Very hardy, evergreen, quick-growing, well-rounded shrub with thin, 
cylindrical, grey-green stems.  The many stems that sway beautifully in the wind arise from a thick rootstock.   Each stem produces a small, yellow flower at the tip, and the entire bush appears butter-yellow for 2 or 3 months from Aug. to Oct.  Attracts pollinating insects.  Excellent feature plant for rockeries and mixed succulent beds.   It makes a particularly attractive container plant. Plant in well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade.  Water moderately. 

Ficus sur- Broomcluster Fig 
This interesting and beautiful tree is only for the larger garden.   It can be used in smaller gardens only if planted and kept in a container.  It has smooth grey bark and thin, bi-coloured leathery leaves which make the tree shimmer in the wind.  Its beautiful, edible figs are borne throughout the year on heavy, long branches off the main stems.   The figs are, in fact, inverted flowers which bear tiny seeds on the inside. The sweet, insect-filled fruits attract a myriad of birds to the garden.  Do not plant figs near walls, pools, pipes or paving.  


April marks a significant change in temperature, particularly up here in Gauteng. As temperatures go down, so plants slow down their growth rate dramatically. 

Cut back on watering. Only water in the morning and reduce the amount of water you use. One does not want to “force” plants into continued growth as softer new growth is likely to suffer frost or cold damage in the colder months to come. Allowing plants to rest also results in stronger growth in spring and summer. Soil that is too wet can also encourage root rot and fungal damage.

Many weed species such as Pompom weed, Black-Jacks and Sweethearts are in full seed at the moment. Instead of attacking them with a brush cutter that will spread the seeds everywhere, you will do yourself an enormous favour by cutting and collecting as many of the seed-heads first, so that they do not fall to the ground and make your weed problem even bigger.

Use a black plastic bag and once collected, tie the bag tightly and leave it in the sun to bake. The prolonged heat and lack of air will literally “steam” and kill these seeds.



Jeffrey and I were so excited to see the orchid, Habenaria nykana, blooming in the grassland just when we were beginning to despair and think it would not come up this year.  We actually found 30 plants in this colony.  How exciting is that?

My mom and I used to drive on a back road near Kromdraai and there was a beautiful dam full of waterlilies.  We always wished we could have a dam like that.

Who would have thought that a few years later our own dam would have hundreds of waterlilies blooming on its surface.  It is a sight to behold, and the birds and fish are loving it.

There are so many fish in the dam that the surface shimmers and some of the bigger ones leap out of the water sometimes.  I am wondering if the dam is so full of fish and waterlilies because I am trapping the silt before it reaches the dam.

I wonder if this has something to do with the congregation of Black-headed Heron we have seen at the dam.  Sometimes we have seen three together – very unusual.


Jeff took these pictures of what I think is the same species, of dragonfly.  The strange thing is that it was both in the water grasses at the dam and on a seedpod in the middle of the grassland – two completely different habitats.


The grassland is simply buzzing with weird and wonderful insects.  It is amazing how many insects take flight as you go through.

The swallows, of course, are getting ready to migrate. They swoop low over the grasses to gorge themselves on this bounty of nature, gathering enough energy for their long migration north.
A lot of migrants will soon be leaving and being replaced with other interesting birds such as the Fairy Flycatcher.

The swallows have also been busy building this nest of mud.  It is like a piece of abstract art with the different types of soil they used.  Nature is so amazing, there always seems to be a purpose.

From this picture of a praying mantis, you can see what a lethal hunter it can be.  No wonder they were much respected as a Bushman God.

I have been watching programs on the curiosity channel about insects and have a new respect for them and how much they contribute to the health of this planet.  We really need to revere and protect them.

Paul and Mike have been ultra busy sowing our winter growing seeds.  Here’s hoping we see lots of little green shoots popping out soon.

Life in a nursery can sometimes be frustrating.  I have been nurturing these gorgeous white Oxalis for years as mother plants and last year managed to propagate a few hundred babies.  So, what happens? The rats ate all the bulbs.  But lesson learned – when we do them this year, I will protect the babies and hopefully have some for you next year.

One of the beautiful sights that greets me every morning on my way to work is the sun shining through the Melinus repens grass. Lucky!!

We are so lucky, those huge Cyphostemma currori we bought and transplanted have settled so well that they are already bearing seed.  They are obviously very happy.

Working with plants you realise how weird the weather has been this summer.  Many of the Clivias are in flower or in bud, completely out of sync with their normal flowering.  I have even seen a Jacaranda flowering at this time – these are all spring flowering.

There are quite a few plants blooming at the moment making for a very colourful autumn.  Like the Wild Garlic flowering in amongst many other flowering plants in the mother plant beds.

The flower of the Anacampseros species in our succulent mother plants is huge in comparison to the tiny plant and very showy, as you can see it has one flower and 2 buds to follow.

If you decide to visit us and take a walk in the grassland you may be lucky enough to see the Black Kite who has been seen regularly in the skies above us.

Enjoy this wonderful season.



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