Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - June 2023

Posted On: Thursday, June 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

It is only another few weeks to mid-winter, how time flies.  So far, we have been lucky and have not had any seriously cold weather.  I love the early morning skies at this time of year and love going out to watch the sunrise over the farm.


It has been exciting times in the nursery.  My staff think I have gone crazy with the solar system we are installing, but lack of electricity has been costing us dearly with all the diesel the generator has been consuming.

After stressing terribly about how much the system is costing, and I, in my wisdom, said I would build the solar stands just added to the stress.  With the help and dedication of my amazing staff we have built beautiful stands for our solar panels.  Even the contractor was impressed.  Now I am totally excited and impatient to get the batteries and inverter connected and working.  Unfortunately, I have to be patient and wait another 2 weeks to get online.  It will be added satisfaction not to have to pay ESKOM their exorbitant account and to be free from their vagaries.

This is the time of year when we collect our grass seed.  What a job it is to clean the seed let alone collect all the tiny seeds.  There is great satisfaction in providing for the next generation of seedlings.

The nursery is looking particularly beautiful at the moment and is worth taking a walk around.  This picture is of the Artistida junciformis (Ngongoni grass) in flower with Salix mucronata (Cape Willow) behind it.

People have seen these green balls on my Olinia emarginata and wondered what they were.  Olinia is notoriously difficult to grow so we are trying ‘air layering’.  Basically, we are trying to root cuttings on the tree while it is still attached to the mother plant.  When the roots are strong, we will cut the branch off and plant it out into a packet.  Hold thumbs it works as well as they say.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS - We are open 16th June.


We look forward to welcoming all the dads who have supported us over the years on this special day.  Iin appreciation we will have a small gift waiting here for them.  

If you would like to spoil your dad, bring him along to enjoy a special Finger Food Feast we will prepare, made up of delicious savoury and sweet treats.  Alternatively, you could choose to relax in the garden with a fire 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

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


I was so excited that this month we managed to distribute 200 Food Parcels.  This was only possible because of your kindness and generosity.  I would like to thank you most sincerely for allowing us the opportunity of continuing with this project which is making a big difference to people’s lives.

Please also remember that bringing along some baked beans or other non-perishable food also makes a big contribution to this effort and assists people who are genuinely in need.

If you find it possible to continue helping us our banking details are as follows:

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


Some of the winter migrants are back.  We have seen the Fairy Flycatcher already.  The profile of birds you will see at this time of year changes and is always interesting.

We are also seeing more and more raptors like this adult Black Sparrowhawk

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

We are very sad to let you know that Andre Marx passed away tragically.  He will be sorely missed as he was so involved with Random Harvest and the Bird walks and so generously shared his passion and knowledge with us.

Together with fellow birder, Lance Robinson, we will be placing a bench in his memory at our dam, one of the places Andre loved to be at most. When at the dam take a few minutes to think of and celebrate this exceptional man’s life. 


Indigenous plants have so many uses besides supporting biodiversity on our planet.  I will present a PowerPoint presentation with some of the uses of plants more commonly found in our gardens. I enjoyed searching for the information.  It adds another layer of enjoyment of our indigenous gardens.

Date: Wednesday 7th June 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Useful Plants
Date: Wednesday 5th July 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Pruning
Mike will take you around the garden and the orchard and demonstrate how to prune your garden and fruit trees.

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


9th June:  Practical Gardener Training     from 8h30- 15h30
A practical course for either new gardeners or to brush up on the knowledge of gardening.  Bring your gardener along to gain practical knowledge and confidence to benefit your garden.

10th June: 08h30 – 13h00Designing & Planting an Indigenous Garden    
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.

TO BOOK or for more information including cost of the course contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or email [email protected]
Dates for July Courses with Lindsay Gray:

  • Practical Gardener Training 21st July
  • Growing your own Produce & Herbs 22nd July


Make Dad ‘Man of the Month’ this Father's Day.

We've declared dads ‘Man of the Month’ this month at Random Harvest Country
Cottages and put together a great deal that applies to mid-week stays in the month of June 2023. Book our family-friendly hospitality during the week at 10% off from Sunday to Thursday. The special rates are available for walk-in, telephone and email reservations. There are a lot of great activities on and around the farm for Dad to relax and rejuvenate. Contact us on [email protected] or 072 562 3396 to book or more information


Just a reminder that Wednesdays are Pensioners Day in the Tea Garden.  An opportunity to enjoy Tea or Coffee and one of our generous, delicious scones for R65.00.

To celebrate Father’s Day, if you book for 15 people or more for the Finger Food Feast, we will offer you a generous 10% Discount.

If you would like to book an event in the Boma, as an added benefit, we can offer a guided Bird Walk with Jeffrey for 6 people or more.

On these cold winter days we try to keep you warm and cosy with fires, gas heaters and even blankets to cover your knees.


Help your feathered friends in your garden stay strong and healthy during winter by putting out suet balls.  Most birds will enjoy the fats in the suet which help to keep them warm.

Janet Carter Hand cream – R94.50
After working in the garden apply this wonderful soothing cream to your hard-working hands.

There are some deliciously fragrant hand-crafted soya candles with beautifully sculpted lids in the shop.  They will help make loadshedding a bit less stressful.  They also make great gifts for a special friend.  R395.00

We now have Earthworm Tea in stock @ R50.00.   It is 100% organic liquid fertilizer full of microorganisms that improve both plant and soil health.


I would like to thank the wholesale customers who took the time to join us on the tree walk.  We arranged to go in smaller groups so were able to answer all the questions.  It was a successful event and I think the knowledge imparted and the tea afterwards was enjoyed by all.  

The next event is on gardening to encourage biodiversity in the gardens you create, thus adding value to both your customer and the planet.

In June we would like to invite our wholesale customers to an informative discussion on Creating Biodiversity in a garden. We will be discussing the principles of Biodiversity gardening, the microorganisms that exist without us even seeing them and practical ways we can increase the number of species present in our green spaces. 

Please look out for your invitation that will be sent via e-mail. 

Alternatively, please correspond with Sarie using [email protected] to get more information and or confirm your attendance.
Please remember that we are always available to assist with plant selections, make recommendations for planting layouts and offer general advice on indigenous plants


At last, we have our new stock of hand thrown clay pots back in stock.  Be inspired by the beauty of these pots to create container gardens on your balcony or patio.  We can help with a choice of what to plant in them.

Remember if you need help with ideas for your garden bring along some pictures and measurements and we will be able to assist you with suggestions – this is a free service.

If you would prefer, someone can visit.  The charges are R300.00 per hour consultation fee discounted at one hour (R300.00) for every R2500.00 spent on plants at Random Harvest. 

We have also upgraded our Herb Stand and now have a much better selection for you to choose from.  You could create a beautiful herb garden in a container in one of the new stock of pots.


People seem to be struggling to buy indigenous plants in some areas of South Africa.  We are pleased to be able to help provide the plants you need or would just love to have for their sheer beauty.  Remember that indigenous plants create wildlife friendly gardens and we will be privileged to help you create a biodiverse garden by making it easier for you to access indigenous plants. To do this we can deliver via courier or road transport depending on where and when you need the plants.  

Please contact us for a quote on [email protected] or call 083-553-0598 and we will assist you.


Special of 15% discount on trees in 20 to 100 litre containers

I thought that as we are offering a special on trees for the month of June, I would speak to you about trees that are suitable for smaller gardens.  Today as gardens get smaller choosing the right tree for the available space is important.

Acacia luederitzii – Kalahari-sand Acacia 
Very hardy, deciduous, Acacia that tolerates harsh conditions as it grows naturally in desert and semi-desert areas.  It has fine, feathery, grey-green foliage.  The inflated, paired spines look like miniature buffalo horns and are an interesting feature of this tree.  The creamy-white puffball flowers are borne from Oct. to Feb. and attract a whole host of insects and, as with most Acacias, is the host plant of many butterfly and moth species.  Plant in well-drained soil in sun. A perfect Acacia for smaller gardens. Once established it requires very little attention.

Gonioma kamassii - Kamassi 
This species is endemic to South Africa.  It is a hardy, evergreen shrub or small tree with bark that is smooth at first, aging to scale-like and fissured.  It has a dense crown of leathery, shiny, dark-green leaves. The sweetly scented clusters of white flowers attract a whole host of tiny pollinating insects to the garden which provide food for the birds.  

The flowers are borne throughout the year but with a peak in Oct.  They are followed by upright leathery pods that split to release the seeds.  This beautiful little tree is ideal for small gardens.  Plant in shade or semi-shade in compost-rich soil.

Ochna natalitia - Showy Plane 
Hardy, semi-deciduous, large shrub or small tree with grey-brown, rough or flaking bark that reveals smooth reddish under bark.  The attractive, glossy leaves flush red in spring and then mature to green.  They vary in size according to their environment.  This beautiful plant deserves pride of place in any garden.  Its profuse, sweetly scented, yellow flowers from Sept. to Dec. are followed by black fruit on enlarged red calyxes.  The decorative, red calyxes persist for months, and they look like starry red flowers.  The seeds attract so many birds to the garden that the shrub can look as if it literally shivers with birds.  It is an important host plant to many moth species as well as the rarely seen Karkloof Charaxes. Makes a beautiful container plant. Plant in well-drained compost-rich soil in sun or semi-shade. 

Peddiea africana - Poison-olive 
Hardy, evergreen, many-branched, slender, erect shrub or small- to medium-sized tree.  It has beautiful, shiny, dark-green leaves. The tubular flowers are apple green with bright orange pollen and are carried in terminal clusters of between three and ten flowers.  This gorgeous tree seems to be in flower almost all year round.  These unusual flowers are sweetly scented at night, suggesting that they may be moth pollinated.   Birds relish the fruit and seeds of the black olive-like fruit, however, they are poisonous to man.  A real conversation piece when in full flower. It makes a beautiful and interesting indoor container subject. Plant in those difficult dark areas of the garden, in light to heavy shade in well-drained, well-composted soil. 

Pavetta lanceolata – Weeping Brides Bush 
Hardy, small, evergreen shrub or small tree with thin, pointed, glossy, dark foliage.  Spectacular, large clusters of pure white, pincushion-like flowers with long protruding stamens are borne from Oct. to Jan.   The plant bears so many flowers that you cannot see the leaves. They are strongly scented and contain nectar to which butterflies and many other insect species, are irresistibly drawn. The flowers are followed by small, black berries that attract fruit-eating birds to the garden.   As it is also the host plant to many moth species it adds to the biodiversity in a garden. This plant is attractive as a foliage plant, making for year-round beauty.  Use as a small specimen tree, plant in groves or create a beautiful hedge and screen. Plant in sun or semi-shade in well composted soil.  

Callpurnea aurea – Calpurnea 
Hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, graceful shrub or small tree with pale brown bark that darkens with age.  The compound leaves are a bright, emerald green above and silvery beneath.  Pendulous bunches of brilliant yellow, pea-like flowers are borne from Nov. to Mar., although there are a few flowers throughout the year.  Carpenter Bees are attracted to the bright flowers.  Pruning back of the tips of the branchlets helps to induce flowering and a more compact shape. It starts flowering at a young age.  Ideal in a tiny garden or courtyard and it can, with age, develop interesting shapes. Grow in sun or semi-shade in well-composted soil. 

Galpinia transvaalica - Wild Pride of India
This hardy, ever green, decorative, thickset, small to medium sized, sometimes multi-stemmed tree has smooth pale bark.  The waxy, glossy, wavy-edged leaves flush an amazing red in spring. From Dec. to Apr showy white flowers are borne, which attract insects to the garden.  It is also a butterfly host tree. 

A quick-growing tree that makes a good container plant.  It can also be pruned into an attractive, formal hedge.  Plant in sun or semi-shade areas.                                                                                                                      


I introduced my thoughts on gardening for biodiversity last month, and this month, thought I’d give more direction on where to start if it is a new concept to you. I hope you find these tips useful.

•    Don’t rake up leaves – leave them in your flower beds, just clear them off your plants if they build up to too many. They will create a blanket for the soil sheltering from heat and desiccation as well as adding to a thin, essential layer of life that exists between above and below the soil. A multitude of life forms use this space – from tiny bacteria and fungi to invertebrates and even birds and mammals that use this as a feeding ground.
•    Resist the urge to dig – turning soil around plants is one of the worst things you can do for both the soil and the micro-organisms. Fine hair roots of plants are concentrated in the top few centimeters of soil, and so regular digging breaks these and prevents them from growing the fine network needed to take the most nutrients and water from the soil that they can. Digging also disrupts the strata of microorganisms in the soil, exposing them to light and drying out the soil so that they cannot break down organic matter and make it available as nutrients to the plants.
•    Mulch - where you don’t have the benefit of a layer of fallen leaves, organic mulch such as wood chips is vital in covering the soil. It does all the good things fallen leaves do.
•    Remove alien invasive plants – I cannot stress how important this is. Invasive plants make it hard for indigenous plants to thrive, as they take up space, light and food that these natural food plants need to survive. They spread seeds rapidly, and create an unbalanced and unhealthy environment that local wildlife finds incredibly challenging or impossible to live in.
•    No more pesticides and weed killers – These chemicals destroy the natural balance of life in green spaces. There are many ways of gardening to avoid having to use harmful chemicals.
•    Consider what you choose to plant in your green space – Whenever you have a new area to plant or are re-planting an existing flower bed, think carefully about the plants that you plan to include. How will they benefit the birds, bees and other life forms that you would like to see in your garden.
•    Introduce micro-organisms – Healthy soil full of micro-organisms means that your plants are able to make use of minerals in the soil far more easily than if these micro-organisms were not present. If your soil is extremely poor, there are a number of ways in which you can boost micro-organisms and therefore improve the growing conditions of your plants


I am so excited that the beautiful huge Cyphostemma curori we transplanted are doing so well and are in full seed.  As usual the birds are totally greedy and want to eat all the seeds and leave none for me to grow.  Luckily my mom is very handy at sewing bags to place around the seeds and save some from the birds.

This time of year is Aloe time and one by one they start blooming, each one more beautiful than the one before.  The insects and sunbirds are rejoicing at the surplus of nectar and pollen available to keep them fat and healthy over winter.  You can read all about caring for indigenous Aloes in our latest blog: How to Take Care of Aloe Plants in South Africa | Random Harvest News

The tall, majestic Aloe barberae (Tree Aloe) are in full bloom as are the smaller rare tree Aloe, Aloe tongaensis.  The flowers of this species are a peachy colour – beautiful. 

Hopefully we get seeds of this beautiful Aloe this year.
There are so many plants blooming that I am spoiled for choice of which ones to share with you.

All the Barleria species are in full flower but my favourite this year is the Barleria obtusa ‘White’ (White Bush Violet) which are covered in these beautiful snow white blooms.

The Plectranthus chimanimaniensis Chimanimani Spur Flower) are also full of flowers.  This slightly succulent plant is waterwise and very floriferous.  It is a perfect size for a smaller garden. 

Ruttya furticosa (Jammy Mouth) is a big rambling shrub, is only suitable for bigger garden beds and needs to be pruned once or twice a year.  It will reward you with these beautiful and unusual flowers.

Not only am I happy to see all the beautiful flowers at this time of year but so are the birds and insects.

Each single flower of the Kalanchoe luciae may be quite nondescript but do make a statement on their long flowering stems.  This Carpenter bee certainly thinks they are worth a visit to sip on the nectar they offer.  The life around indigenous plants is what I love most about them.  

The butterflies are happy that the Scabiosa are coming into flower and are flitting around from flower-to-flower sipping nectar.

If you look carefully at the Scabiosa flower you may be lucky enough to see a tiny Crab Spider lurking waiting for a tiny insect to visit that he can pounce on for a meal.  These amazing creatures have the ability to change colour to camouflage themselves inside the flower, making them invisible to both predator and their prey.

There have also been some amazing moths on the farm.

The number and variety of moths is mind boggling and we are so lucky that Steve Woodhall is always happy to help us with identification.

The Brown moth is a Suter Moth and is quite small but intricately patterned.  I cannot find information as to what the host plant of this moth is.

The host plant of the beautiful green Small Verdant Hawk Moth is Rubiaceae sp., like Gardenia and Coffea species.  There are so many wonders in an indigenous garden.

There are a lot of Grasshoppers and Locusts around and the birds are having a field day feeding off them.

The Brown Hooded Kingfisher is very busy in the garden and his wonderful calls are wafting everywhere.  Unlike some other Kingfishers, he is an insect eater.  Here he is having just caught a juicy insect.

The Pied Kingfishers are at the dam busy fishing out all the baby tilapia there

He is probably successful with 50% of the dives he makes into the dam.  I think he has found paradise down at the dam.

I was excited when Ronald took this picture of the Tilapia in the pond in the nursery.

We often assume too much and when I saw this picture I decided to see if I could identify them as I thought only the Banded Tilapia had survived.

Much to my surprise I think they are Mozambique Tilapia in full breeding colours.  I am not a fish expert but when I check pictures on ‘Uncle Google’ it comes out to Mozambique Tilapia.  Exciting.

We were excited to see this Brown House Snake sunning itself outside the laundry.  I am always happy to see snakes on the farm, especially if they are harmless constrictors like this one.

Jeffrey particularly wanted me to share with you theses pictures of the male and female Stone Chat.

These gorgeous tiny birds are one of his favourites.

One of my landscaping clients, Gill Cooper, is so keen on getting her staff to buy into the environmental ethos that she brings them along regularly for us to train them.

This month we took Gill’s team on their second Bird walk.  It is amazing to see how engaged they are in learning about nature.

We have a plethora of calves being born.  We got a new bull and he wasted no time in breeding.  We have had 4 new calves in the space of 2 weeks.

This tiny calf has a perfect heart on her forehead – totally cute.

Hopefully by the time I write the next newsletter our solar system will be up and running and we won’t be at the mercy of ESKOM.  Here’s looking forward to light filled evenings.

Keep warm and cosy – midwinter is 2 weeks away and spring follows quickly thereafter.



Join Our Mailing Lists

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

  • Wholesale Customers
  • Random Harvest Newsletter
  • Youth Newsletter