Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - July 2023

Posted On: Saturday, July 1, 2023

Dear indigenous Enthusiast,

Thank goodness mid-winter has come and gone and the light is getting brighter.  Although, at this time of year, the shadows playing in the garden are beautiful.  The  leaf cover is much lighter with the deciduous trees being leafless and the evergreen trees have thinned out somewhat, making it a lot easier to see and identify the birds.

The other news I wanted to mention is that the Chelsea Flower Show has at last caught up to Random Harvest and all our wonderful indigenous gardeners.  The whole theme of the show gardens is Biodiversity Gardening, meadows and sustainability.  This is a subject that has been close to all of our hearts for many years.


I am so excited that after much hard work, soul searching and money borrowing, our Solar System is up and running.  The generator is so expensive to run and electricity produced so little, that I didn’t have much choice but to install solar.

My staff always tease me and call me BnB (Bou en Breek; Build and Break).  I stayed true to form when I built the battery room for the solar system.  

The inverter is so big that I had to break the wall to get the inverter into the room.  My staff are so amazing and were as excited as I was when the inverter was delivered, never you mind it cost them a lot of effort.  We had to place the inverter and then build the wall again on the same day.

When the batteries arrived 2 weeks later (can you imagine how impatient I was waiting for them) they were just as excited.  We have had a few teething problems, but I am busy building plans in my head to make it even bigger.  Becoming so aware of the power we use has been a shock and, to get the full value of the solar power, we will have to extend it.  So big plans afoot. 


Thanks to your amazing and ongoing generosity we once again have been able to distribute 200 Food parcels this month.

One of my security guards, Lucas, alerted me to a totally destitute family with only grandparents who have been left to care for 6 children and no papers, so no help from the government.  I gave them my crotcheted blankets and a large food parcel.  This is a family that Random Harvest will take under its wing and continue to help out as they have truly touched my heart.

Next time you visit it would be greatly appreciated If you could 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.

Words fail me to express just how grateful I am for your ongoing help.  This is very close to my heart and gives me immense joy and peace when we are able to help the less fortunate, it also makes me immensely grateful for my life every moment of every day.


We are so fortunate that after the sad loss of Andre Marx, Lance has agreed to continue with the bird walks and he has roped in Chris Hines to help out and take the bird walks which are so popular with you.  It will be good to get another view on the variety of birds that can be seen at Random Harvest.  So far, our list is 178 strong.

We decided to try and hold a bird walk on a Sunday to accommodate people who have commitments on a Saturday.

The first Sunday walk will be taken by Lance Robinson on Sunday 23rd July 7h30 for 8h00.

Chris Hines’ first bird walk will be on Saturday 19th August 7h00 for 7h30 a little earlier as we are coming into spring. 

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 


Mike Viviers will be sharing his vast knowledge with you on how and why to prune plants. He will take you around the garden and the orchard and demonstrate how to prune your garden and fruit trees.

Date: Wednesday 5th July 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Pruning

Date: Wednesday 2nd August 2023 at 10h30
Basics of Biodiversity Ggardening

You are probably used to me rambling on about wildlife gardening.  I will share with you some of the small basic things that can be done, even in tiny spaces, to encourage life to your garden.

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


21st July:  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.

22nd July: 08h30 – 13h00 Growing your own Produce & Herbs
Discover the essentials of growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. Whether you are growing food on a balcony or in a larger space, 

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


The Twelfth International Symposium on Pollination will be at Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens 16-20 October 2023. It is the first time it will be held in Africa and is an ideal opportunity to present your work on pollination, learn more about current research in pollination and make personal contact with world leaders in pollination ecology.

This is an opportunity for researchers, students, agriculturists, gardeners and hobbyists etc to foster their interest in pollination and pollinators. 

To register or for more information click here


We have been pretty busy in the cottages and our new cottage, Tulip Tree, is now available for booking.  It has its own private indigenous garden with a view out to the cows grazing peacefully in their paddock.

I think my staff did a wonderful job of laying out and planting the garden, it looks beautiful even in mid- winter.

This light and airy cottage is self-catering and has a separate bedroom.  The bathroom has a bath and shower for you to choose from.

We are also busy preparing another cottage, Corkwood, which will also have a separate bedroom.  This one has a beautiful view over the valley.  I will let you know when it is ready.


Women’s Day is coming up in August.  I think that it is a wonderful opportunity to have an outing with the women you love and admire.  We will also have a small gift awaiting all the women who visit to show our appreciation of their support.

Bring them along to enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch, or indulge in one of our homemade cakes.

You could treat them with a generous and delicious High Tea at Random Harvest where everything is baked in our own kitchen with the very best of fresh ingredients.  If you prefer savoury rather than sweet, we also have an offering of a selection of savoury treats laid out like a High Tea.  As the weather will be a little kinder, you could choose to celebrate with a picnic in the garden.
Booking is essential for both of these items.  

Please contact Paul on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 to book


If you have been feeding the birds in your garden it is vital that you continue regularly in winter as resources are scarcer.  Of course, the best way to feed them is by planting indigenous plants.  We don’t all have the space for this and watching the birds visit a feeding station gives one immense joy.

Don’t overfeed the birds as the population becomes too dense.  They also begin to rely solely on the food you supply so it is vital to put out food regularly. 

Different birds have different food choices so to attract interesting visitors to the table and not only seed eaters, put out a variety of food types. We have the following in stock, but don’t forget to put out some fruit for the fruit eating birds.

  • Seed bells
  • Suet pop
  • Suet bits
  • Bird feeders
  • Nectar mix 
  • Nectar feeders


The new stock of hand thrown pots has finally arrived.  These pots are beautiful and reasonably priced.  I know some of you have been waiting patiently for them to arrive.

If you would like to have the feeling of being out in the bush in your own garden, why not place a few of these realistic wildlife figurines in your garden to remind you of just how wonderful the creatures are that share this world with us.

Remember we are well set up to deliver stock via courier all over South Africa.  
Email us on [email protected] for a quote.

When you visit us be sure to collect your loyalty card and benefit for future purchases.  You can read more about how this works on our website www.rhn.co.za.


We would like to remind our wholesale customers that we are always here to help. Often a specific site can be challenging in terms of plant selection due to factors such as soil type, moisture, amount or lack of sun etc. if you encounter these situations or where you need some inspiration in terms of suitable plants, please give us a call to discuss or arrange a visit to site for us to provide some ideas.  Call Jonathan on 076-830-5242.

If you would also like assistance with creating Biodiverse gardens, a particular passion of ours, we have a booklet available or can help with advice on how to create habitat to encourage diversity in your gardens.

EVENT for Wholesale Customers

Our Wholesale discussion morning for the month of July will cover the propagation of Indigenous plants using seeds.  This is an ideal time in early spring to gain some knowledge of this fascinating and endlessly changing subject.

Please join us for an informative and practical morning where we will share everything we have learnt about the art of germinating and caring for seeds and seedlings. 

We will talk about harvesting, seed cleaning, storage, germination techniques, tricks and tips and discuss soil mixes, watering routines and growing positions.

A mini High tea will be served afterwards.

Date: 19th July 9h00 Booking essential: Please confirm attendance with Sarie on 082-553-0791


PSHB poses a threat to all woody plants, especially trees, by spreading a lethal fungus into trees that acts as the beetles’ food source. This fungus in turn attacks the tree and is in essence what kills the tree.

We now offer a service to spray your trees and help keep this deadly pest at bay

We use a bio-friendly certified product that is not harmful to pets, people or pollinators to fight Polyophagous Shothole Borer PSHB) borer. Using high pressure spraying equipment we are able to reach the crowns of trees of up to 30 m tall.

Call Jonathan on 076-830-5242 for advice and to book for spring spraying of your trees to preserve them.


Gomphostigma virgatum - River Stars
This is an extremely hardy, evergreen, water-loving, graceful perennial or shrub with small, elongated, attractive, grey leaves.  It blooms profusely almost all year round with spikes of white flowers.  These attract small pollinating insects to the garden. This shrub grows well in running, not stagnant, water and in a normally irrigated garden. I have seen this pretty, delicate-looking plant anchored between rocks in a fast-flowing stream in the Free State – shows how tough it is.  Plant close together in groups for the best effect.  Plant in full sun or semi-shade and prune to keep it neat.   Size: 1m

Chlorophytum bowkeri
Very hardy, evergreen, robust perennial with attractive, basal, folded, strap-like leaves.   Densely packed, small, pure white, star-like flowers that close in the evenings are borne on long, upright spikes (1 to 1.5 meters tall) from Dec. to Apr. and attract insects to the garden.  A beautiful plant for large, shady to semi-shade areas and semi-wild forest gardens.  It is particularly beautiful when combined with Crinum moorei.  This versatile plant also grows in damp or rocky areas.

Cyrtanthus mackenii - Ifafa Lily 
This hardy, evergreen, clump-forming, bulbous plant has attractive, glossy, dark-green, narrow, strap-like leaves. From Jul. to Feb., it bears umbels of narrow tubular flowers, in profusion.  It is a beautiful addition to any garden and makes a wonderful container subject and edging plant. It prefers semi-shade and moist, compost-rich-soil.  Size: 20cm

Ruellia otaviensis
Hardy, compact, small, evergreen perennial with dull green leaves.  It can sometimes scramble when planted in semi-shade.  It bears funnel-shaped, mauve to purple flowers from Nov. to Jan.  The flowers attract insects.  Use as a border plant in a mixed flower bed.  Plant in compost-rich soil and prune back at the end of winter to keep it looking neat.  Makes a good container plant and is waterwise. Size: 30cm

Pelargonium sidoides - Kalwerbossie 
A hardy, neat, evergreen perennial that has thickened underground, tuber-like roots. (These are an adaptation to surviving grassland fires). The leaves are somewhat "frilly" and a beautiful, felted, grey green. They are faintly aromatic and arranged in a rosette. The contrast of the beautiful maroon flowers and grey leaves is stunning.  The flowers are borne mostly in spring (Oct. to Mar.) and are very decorative. Makes a great container plant.  When the plants become untidy after a few years, cut them right back, level with the ground.  They will resprout from their roots. Plant in full sun or semi-shade, in well-drained, compost rich, soil. Size: Up to 20cm 

Thespesia acutiloba - Tulip Tree
Hardy, semi-deciduous small tree or large shrub with pale grey bark that becomes furrowed with age.  It has large, decorative, shiny, ivy-like leaves.  From Nov. to May it bears beautiful, big, lemon-yellow flowers, which close in the afternoon.  It was from the flowers that the common name ‘Tulip Tree’ arose.  Large, fleshy, red fruits are borne on stout stems and attract birds.  The wood is used to make musical instruments.  An interesting tree for small gardens.  Plant in compost-rich soil in sun or semi-shade.  Size: 3 to 4m 

PLANTS ON SPECIAL  - Less 15% Discount

We will continue with the special on trees that are grown in 20 Litre, 40 Litre and 100 Litre containers for the month of July.  This is a perfect time to plant trees in time for them blossoming out early in spring for which, I am waiting impatiently.

Kniphofia species – Red Hot Poker
Robust, very hardy, evergreen, herbaceous perennials with basal, strap-like leaves that are folded.  Spikes of tubular orangey-red and yellow flowers top the long flowering stems of up to one meter.  They attract insects, sunbirds and other birds to the garden, as well as many pollinating insects.   Plant en masse for a magnificent show, as an element of a grassland garden or simply as a focal point next to a pond.  It does well in both moist areas and under ordinary garden conditions but must be planted in full sun. Size: Up to 50cm  

We are happy to be able to offer you this beautiful, fully grown 

Aloe parvibractea that is in full bloom for just R35.00 each ex Open Ground.

It is a hardy, evergreen, stemless Aloe that suckers freely.  The leaves are carried in a compact rosette and have spots in bands.  The tall, branched flowering stem a dull-red or coral-red flowers are borne on tall stems and are borne in winter (Jun. to Aug.)  Insects and sunbirds are attracted to its copious nectar.  Use in a grassland garden or plant en masse for a stunning display.  Unusually this Aloe thrives in swampy areas so can be planted around a pond with great success.  It also makes a wonderful container plant.  It is not fussy about the soil and will grow in clay soils.  Plant mainly in full sun but it will tolerate a little shade during the day. 


WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A BIODIVERSITY GARDEN – Providing the best possible habitat for garden wildlife

A biodiversity garden is not just about the right plants to include. We can invite more creatures to live in and visit our gardens by providing as many different places to live in as possible.  Doing so is creating habitat and “micro-habitat” for small organisms / creatures as well. We can even enhance habitat by providing nesting sites and in some cases, feeding stations.

The next few newsletters will give you more detail on each of these elements, but start to think about what and how you will include the following in your garden to create high quality habitat for garden wildlife:

  • Indigenous Plants – Our gardens need to reflect the local plant food available but can include plants from elsewhere in the province / country, as long as they provide some sort of benefit to locally occurring wildlife.
  • Soil, compost and mulch, including sandy patches – use the best quality you can in terms of organic, microbe-rich media.
  • Wood – This is a tricky one because of possible infestation of shot-hole borer. N.B.: Inspect any wood you place in your garden very carefully for signs of PSHB. The more gnarled and interesting the wood looks, the more nooks and crannies for creatures to take shelter in.
  • Rock (including boulders, pebbles and stones) – If you are using large rocks that take more than 2 people to move, or even a machine, plan carefully when placing them, about how they can most benefit wildlife. It will take huge effort to move them to a new spot if you change your mind.
  • Water – before you include some sort of water feature in your garden, think carefully about where it will be, size of the water body and what sort of ecosystem you hope to create.

 As you start putting your ideas together, you can create a file or brainstorm a basic plan of your property. Start taking note of insects, birds and other creatures you may see in or near your garden or balcony, and this is a good starting point to research what you may need to provide to make them linger a little longer or even take up residence in your outdoor space.


We hear so much about climate change which we, as humans, don’t seem to notice all that much.  In the nursery I can see some of the results by just how confused some of the plants seem to be.  Some of them are shooting as if it is spring, such as the Combretum erythrophyllum (River Bushwillow) in the nursery.  Even some of the Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear) are starting to bud at least 6 weeks too early.  Very few of the deciduous trees have lost all their leaves. 

Some plants are looking really stunning at the moment like this pot of Crassula ovata ‘Hummel Sunset’.  What you can’t see in the picture is the number of tiny insects visiting the flowers it – they are humming with life.

The Clivia nobilis are blooming and brightening up shady areas of the garden.  As they are slow growing, they are rarely available at nurseries, so this plant is under threat with people literally stealing total populations of them, just because they are currently the flavour of the month in China and Europe.  Sad really.   I have a few coming on but after 3 years they are little more than seedlings, but we will keep on at it patiently.

Talking of rare plants this beautiful Thorncroftia lotteri is blooming happily in shady conditions.  It is a beautiful smallish shrub that you can prune to keep to the size you want.

We took up our Gloriosa superba (Flame Lily) tubers to refresh the bed they were planted in.  I was amazed at just how many tubers there were in the bed.  

But the most surprising one was Gloriosa rothchildiana.  When we emptied the pot we found this huge tuber. This twiner has the most gorgeous flowers, and we hope to have it in production next year.

We have been very busy on the farm and on the roads near us.

I was tired of all the alien vegetation on the pavements, so we went out and cut and dug out heaps of them.  When we did that there was litter all over the place, so we had to clean that up as well.  We still have to burn these heaps, but the place is looking much neater.

It may not be a busy time in the garden, but it is certainly a very busy time on the farm and in the nursery.  One of the huge tasks is to prune the fruit trees in preparation for blossoming and fruiting.  Luckily the guys are past masters and do a great job.

We are also cutting and baling grass on the surrounding farms.  We use the bales for fodder for the cows and also to make compost.

A bull we had didn’t father any calves, so we had to change him.  Our new bull did his job so well that we now have four calves that were born within a few weeks of each other.  Totally cute.

It may not be a busy time in the garden but it is certainly a busy time on the farm and in the nursery.

Sometimes too much cleaning is not a good thing.  I went and cleared out an old Pyracantha (an alien plant) and promptly chased the Burchells Coucal who loved the dense area this plant created.

Jeff and I have missed its beautiful liquid call over the last 2 years and keep berating ourselves.  I am overjoyed to tell you that he is back and has taken up residence in our windbreak.  It definitely gave me a new perspective on messing with the habitat of the creatures that live in our gardens.

Ronald got this beautiful picture of another bird I was happy to see again, the Grey-headed Sparrow, as I had not seen them for a while.

At this time of year, the tiny and totally cute Bronze Mannikins become very visible and flocks of them visit the feeding table in the nursery.  They are adorable.

When the Aloes and Leonotis start blooming the sunbirds celebrate and come out in big numbers to feast on the nectar on offer and the tiny insects that visit the flowers.

They also use the Aloes for nesting sites, sitting safely in between the prickly leaves.

The Sunbirds pictured here are the male and female Amethyst Sunbird.

Even though it may be mid-winter the insects are still busy collecting nectar and pollen from the many plants that are in flower at this time of the year.

The frogs love floating on top of the Vallisneria just below the surface of the water in the ponds and the dragonflies are flitting around the ponds and the grasses.

Jeffrey found this beautiful spider’s nest in an Acacia.  A biodiverse garden is a constant source of amazement and pleasure at just how perfectly things work together if we just take a little time to observe all the tiny lives going on around us.

Paul is busy creating this beautiful succulent garden around the huge Cyphostemma currori.  The diversity of our succulent flora is a source of amazement for me.

I love this artistic picture Ronald took of the seed of a Gardenia cornuta, once again it takes just moments to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Although this picture of sunset reflections in the dam was not taken now it is a reminder that I am privileged to live on a beautiful and biodiverse farm with wonderful people around me.  Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate this.

Keep warm and looking forward to the blooming and budding of spring.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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