Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - May 2023

Posted On: Monday, May 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

There is a definite nip in the air, heralding the coming of winter.  What a beautiful season this is.  The plants are changing and many of them blooming, the leaves are just beginning to turn to winter colours.   Lift your eyes to the sky and you can see changes there as well.  The sunrises and sunsets are getting more gorgeous with each passing day.


To combat our ESKOM woes and the drain on our finances to run the generator I have taken the huge step of installing solar.  This is exciting as it will not only give us uninterrupted electricity but will save money as well.  Most importantly it is much more environmentally friendly and in line with our ethos.  The other thing, of course is that I am always at my happiest when involved in a project – Jonathan and I are having a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, our beautiful vegetable garden had to go as that is the only space reasonably close to our ESKOM supply that has enough sun.  Sometimes my intense love of indigenous trees works against my plans.  

We moved the veggie garden and made it smaller to be able to grow nice fresh lettuce for the tea garden.

We also had to move trees around to change the roadway for access to the top of the nursery.  A huge amount of work but I am confident that in the long run this will benefit Random Harvest enormously.

We were so lucky that the Municipality came and repaired the road which was, after all the rain, in dire need of repair.  We were going try and do the job with our tractor, so this was a real blessing.

We were so short of grasses that Jeffrey took a chance and planted grass seed very late in the season.  Mike laughed at us, and said no ways were they going to grow.  Well, if there is one thing that will always surprise and interest you it is plants – the germination was great, and the seedlings are now ready to plant out.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS - We are open on all public holidays.


As there are so many people who visit on Mother’s Day, we will be celebrating on both the 13th and 14th of May.  On these days there will be a small gift waiting for all mothers who visit us, in appreciation of all the support we receive from you.

We would love to host you and your moms to enjoy a delicious and generous High Tea here at Random Harvest or you could choose to relax in the garden and have a picnic and just enjoy each other’s company on this special day.
Cost for both is R225.00 per adult and R120.00 for children under 12.  
BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.  Call Paul on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143 to book.

Other than these booked events guests will be served on a first come first served basis.


Ronald is always so delighted to be able to help people in need.  In the beginning he always came back in tears until he realised that we can’t help everyone but are, with your invaluable help and generosity, making a difference to many people’s lives.

When you visit, please donate R100.00 and be in line to win one of two R1000.00 vouchers for Random Harvest.

The Winners of the latest draw are -  Vernon Cooney and Christa Young.

Thank you once again for your unfailing generosity it truly touches my heart and makes me happy.

To the person who is making an unbelievable generous donation each month a special thank you.  When next you visit please would you make a little time to see me, so I can thank you in person for your incredible generosity.

If you are able to continue supporting us our banking details are.

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


The summer migrants all seem to have left and it is time for the winter migrants to arrive, resulting in a change to the profile of birds we spot on these walks changes at this time of year.  The water around is drying up so we are looking forward to seeing more birds at the dam.  The first to arrive was the Three-banded Plover – he is so cute and a joy to watch.

The next bird walk is as follows:

Date: Saturday, 24th June 2023 with Lance Robinson
Time: 7h30 for 8h00

Cost: R185.00 per person, this includes a delicious breakfast buffet 

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


Aloes are just coming into their own at this time of year and I love watching the interaction between them and all the birds and insects in the area which come to feast on their bounty of pollen and nectar.

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.   Mike is hugely knowledgeable and will answer all of your questions.

Date: Wednesday 7th June 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Useful Plants
I prepared a PowerPoint show for BASA and thought I would like to share it with you.  I enjoyed searching for the information.  It adds another layer of enjoyment of your indigenous garden.

Coffee Morning Cost: R25.00 per person towards our food parcel drive and includes a cup of coffee.  No booking required.


Saturday, 3 June 08h30 – 13h00
Lindsay presents the comprehensive workshop – Designing & Planting your Garden.  This workshop demonstrates the logical process for designing any outside space, including 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. 
Cost: R850 includes course manual and all refreshments. Minimum 5 persons.
Contact Lindsay on [email protected] or WhatsApp her with your name to 0824499237


With the busy lives we lead we seldom have enough time to spend with our mothers.

Random Harvest Cottages is the perfect place to spend the quality time with her that she has been missing.  It is a peaceful, secure environment where you can spend an evening outdoors in your private indigenous garden, on a well-lit patio chatting up a storm and enjoying the sounds of nature.

Catherine and Lucia have had a lot of good comments about how helpful they are and on how clean they always keep the cottages.  They are always smiling and nothing is too much trouble.

The Muldersdrift area has quite a few events lined up in May.  If you are attending one of these events and don't feel like taking the long drive home, stay with us and enjoy the farm and the hospitality.


As the colder weather approaches, we light the fire in the Gazebo and on the veranda and have gas heaters in the Boma to ensure that you enjoy your meal in cosy comfort. 

If you prefer to have a picnic or eat outside, we will light a fire in a ploughshare (pictured) for you to sit around and relax and chat. 

I would like to remind you that we use only the freshest and most natural of ingredients in our preparation of food that is free of harmful additives.  This is a particular interest of mine as I have been fortunate enough to live on a farm for most of my life and have benefited from the goodness of fresh, healthy farm produce.


Our shop products featured for May are closely linked to our garden tip. Read more there for why they are so important for the health of your plants and the garden.

Wrap the stems of trees or cover some of your more tender plants with Frost Cover – 1 x 20m @ R105.00 or 2 x 10M @ R95.00.  These covers will also provide shelter from insects and small creatures in your garden. 
It is time to mulch your garden.  Wood Chip mulch will create a blanket for the soil and protect the hair roots just below the soil. 

It also provides habitat for insects and other small creatures will bury themselves in the mulch for protection.  

The microorganisms that break down the wood provide food for tiny creatures and also the plants they are protecting.  Cost R42.50 per bag.

There is still time to plant your Namaqualand Daisy seed for a splendid display in spring that will attract a whole host of tiny life to your garden.  Cost R60.00 per packet (enough for 4 sq. meters).  This colourful carpet will act as a green covering for soil through winter, and once over, can be dug into the soil as mulch.


When: June 10th @ 9h30
Wholesale customer Talk Topic: Tips on how to create a Biodiverse Garden full of life.  

The Topic for June for our wholesale customers is ‘Tips on how to create a Biodiverse Garden full of life’.  We will be giving a PowerPoint presentation and each customer attending will receive a detailed booklet on this subject.

Jonathan will be sending you an invitation.  

If you haven’t received an invitation, please contact us ([email protected]) and we will send you one.   Hopefully you have the time to join us where we can explore this fascinating subject.


There seems to be a shortage of indigenous nurseries in some areas as we have been receiving more and more orders to ship plants via courier.  I am just happy that we are able to help people plant indigenous and create wildlife friendly gardens all over the country.  Please contact us for a quote on [email protected] or call 083-553-0598 and we will assist you.

You can also check availability on our plant catalogue, and use the quote request function on our website – www.rhn.co.za. I am happy to announce that, at last I have got myself going and we now have a loyalty system running.  When next you visit the nursery, please ask them to issue a card for you.


Juncus lomatophyllus
This very hardy, evergreen lovely water plant is unusual as it is quite small.  Its flat, bright green leaves are carried on a rosette and have red stems.  It bears dark brown flowers in summer.  Because of its small size it can be used in small ponds but as with most water plants should be kept in control as it spreads. It will create habitat and protection for all types of organisms that inhabit the pond.

Catha edulis - Khat
This protected tree is medium sized, hardy, evergreen and has a slender almost weeping shape as its young branches are soft.  The massed clusters of creamy-white flowers in summer attract a whole host of insects and birds.  It is also the host plant for the beautiful Foxy Charaxes butterfly.

With its slender, upright shape it is ideal for smaller spaces and avenues along roads in complexes. 

Euphorbia clavarioides – Lions Spoor
This very hardy, Euphorbia has a large underground stem and tiny, green stems above ground that form a flat cushion on the ground and do the job of photosynthesis.  The closely packed stems prevent drying out.  The areas that it occurs in naturally are prone to fires that will damage the plant, but it will resprout from the underground stem. Tiny yellow flowers are massed at the tips of the branches.  These flowers attract tiny insects, beetles and birds.  Plant in well-drained soil in amongst rocks or in a grassland garden or even create beautiful, artistic containers with this plant.

Crassula CV ‘Gollum’ – Gollum Jade Plant
This compact succulent shrub develops a thick, bonsai-like trunk with beautiful greyish bark which makes it a sculptural feature plant in a rockery or container.  It has tubular leaves with red margined suction-cup like tips.  The new growth is red.  Clusters of small star-shaped, pinkish flowers are borne in autumn. They attract a huge variety of pollinating insects and butterflies.  Be careful not to overwater as it becomes too soft and will break easily and ruin the effect of its beautiful shape.   Plant in sun or partial light shade

Erythroxylon emarginatum - African Coca Tree
What a beautiful small tree!  This dark green glossy, leaved shrub has rigid branches and a beautiful, neat shape.  You can use it as a dense shrub or prune it into a single stemmed small tree.  The white flowers are small but sweetly scented and are followed by attractive red berries.  The flowers attract tiny pollinating insects while the flowers are relished by birds.  It grows in sun and shade so is perfect for the south side of a building.


Podocarpus henkellii – Natal Yellowwood
This beautifully shaped very hardy, decorative tree is huge and not suitable for small gardens but makes a wonderful long-lived plant for a large container in cooler shady positions.  It has long dark drooping leaves and bears cones as it is a conifer.  Keep a layer of mulch on the surface around the tree to keep the roots cool.  It makes a great Christmas tree when decked out in its finery.

Noltea africana – Soap Dogwood
Very hardy, evergreen, very fast growing, small to medium sized tree with glossy, leaves that have purple petioles. The small, pretty white flowers are borne in sprays in the axils of the leaves from Aug. to Sep. They attract tiny pollinating insects.  The seeds attract seed eating birds.   A decorative tree that is ideal for the smaller, not tiny, garden but must be kept as a single stem or it will send out multiple stems and grow very wide. Grows well in sun and semi-shade.   A good tree to plant for a quick screen.  When twigs and leaves are rubbed in water it becomes soapy. 

Plectranthus species – Spur Flowers
The Plectranthus are all flowering now.  This is an opportunity to buy plants for shady areas that have a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes of leaves that look good all year round.  They bear varying coloured spikes of flowers that attract insects to the garden and are also butterfly host plants to many butterfly species such as the Garden Commodore.  Butterflies and insects will feed on the nectar produces by the flowers.  Plant in compost rich soil and prune back once a year to keep in shape and encourage flowering.



What’s the point of convincing all our country’s people to plant indigenous plants? Well, I’m passionate not only about South Africa’s vast array of plants, but the creatures great and small that depend on them to survive.
Not a day goes by without some miracle or drama playing out on the stage of my garden. 

The day I became aware of the life indigenous plants supported and how vital they are to all creatures, including microscopic organisms, I realized that this magical world could in fact live in my garden…all I had to do was plant indigenous plants that I knew would support their day to day lives.  Soon, I had my own private nature reserve!

This passion for biodiversity in the garden has fuelled me and this nursery for over 30 years, so I thought it a good idea to focus on this subject in our monthly gardening tip for a while.

We will hopefully encourage / inspire you to garden like this too. It is my heartfelt wish that I can convince you to garden this way and, in doing so, gain vast pleasure out of your garden no matter how tiny, by turning it into a mini nature reserve teaming with life.

When we create a Biodiversity Garden, it is not simply for the wildlife that we can see, but also for the millions of microscopic organisms we don’t see with our naked eye.  These microorganisms are important to keep an ecosystem healthy and are found predominantly in undisturbed soil which is rich in organic matter.

We are carefully constructing a habitat (a place to live, breed, feed, nest and rest) that can be used by as many living things that would naturally be found in that area as possible. 

Biodiversity in this instance would refer not only to the variety but also the number of a species one could attract to either visit or live there because habitat is provided for them.


The strange weather we are experiencing has many of the plants completely confused.    

The white Ehretia rigida (Puzzle Bush) and Acacia sieberiana (Paperbark) are blooming in autumn – they are spring flowering, this is something I have never seen before.  I even saw a Jacaranda blooming. 

Talk about strange plants.  Watsonia meriana carries its bulbuls on the stem above the ground.  This is the first time I have seen this.  This is the reason I love nature and plants so much – there is always something to learn and something to amaze you. 

As the rains have more or less stopped and the water has receded in the dam, it has left a lot of water lilies high and dry.  They will store their bulbs underground until the dam fills again.  I am not sure how many will be left as the moles have found them and are having a feast.

My worry is that they are tunnelling all over and on the dam wall.  I am going to have to come up with a solution as the dam is now going to leak even more with the help of the moles.

The shallower water has attracted the Herons who are stalking around the dam looking for an easy meal.  

We have seen Grey Heron, Purple Heron and Green Backed Heron.

The Pied and Malachite Kingfishers are also having an easier time catching fish with the lower water levels.

The frogs are proliferating in the lily ponds.  

The staff relocate them as quickly as they can, as the tadpoles eat the young germinating seedlings and they breed again.   The ponds are obviously a healthy ecosystem that they are taking advantage of.

I thought I would share these two pictures of common birds, House Sparrow, Groundscraper Thrush and Fiscal Flycatcher with you as I think that when you endeavour to create a biodiverse garden, they are the type of little soul-feeding scenes you will encounter on a daily basis.

There are so many beautiful plants blooming that the insects are spoilt for choice.

The weird and unusual flower of the Stapelia gigantea (Giant Stapelia) are being pollinated by many different types of flies.  This one is flowering in amongst rocks and grasses in its perfect habitat that we created in the local plants display.

You can see from this picture of Gladiolus dalenii (African Gladiolus) where so many of the hybrids used in the cut flower industry originated from.

Plants will always surprise you.  The yellow Vygie-type flowers of the Faucaria tuberculosa (Tiger Jaws) only open in the late afternoon which is unusual for a Vygie.  As they start to open, the bees are trying to force themselves into the slightly opened flower, they are so greedy for its pollen.  As you sit and watch them, they are climbing over each other trying to get their share.

The Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’ (Campfire Crassula) are starting to open their flowers and the bees are busy.  As More flowers open this plant will have literally hundreds of butterflies flitting around feed ing off the nectar.

A pretty but dangerous alien plant, the Morning Glory, has been flowering profusely.  When we moved to the farm 54 years ago it was infested with the horrible, alien creeper.  After years of hard work, we got rid of it.  This year with the wetter weather it has sprung up all over again.  Jeffrey and my staff are waging war on it and pulling it out wherever it pops its head up, but it is a lot of work and takes dedication.  Please be sure to yank it out in you garden whenever you see it or you may land up with this problem.

I was so excited to see this Rain spider on the windscreen of my golf car.  It isn’t often that you can see the underside of a spider, you may think I am crazy, but I think it is beautiful.

It is always exciting to see the dung beetles lumbering around the nursery.  Consider how amazing they are to navigate the dung balls by the sun.  Nature is miraculous.

Ronald took a picture of these strange little beetles.  I am trying to find out what they are but decided to share the picture anyway for you to enjoy. 

We had a group of cubs visiting to do the Easter egg Hunt and do some weeding and litter collecting to earn their badges.  The children loved it but I think my staff loved it even more being able to share some of our interest in nature with the children.

The Encephalartos altensteinii (Eastern Cape Cycad) which I bought with a Christmas bonus about 50 years ago has 3 beautiful huge cones.  Can you imagine having a plant giving you pleasure for such a long time.?

My staff always tease me and call me ‘Bou en Breek’ (Build and Break) as you can see from the heaps of rubble it is happening again.  All this rubble comes from where we are preparing the solar panel area.  At least Abby is enjoy sniffing around in it for any rats or mice that may be hiding.

Enjoy this wonderful weather and hope to see you soon.



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