Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - August 2023

Posted On: Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Who would have thought I would be writing about snow at Random Harvest?  Not me, that’s for sure.  We have lived her for 54 years and this is the first time the snow has reached us. 

It was interesting to note that most of my staff had never seen snow and they were very excited – I was just cold although, I must admit, it was beautiful.  There was enough to settle on the shade houses.


I am pleased to report that our solar system is working really efficiently, and we have only run the generator for one and a half hours this month which means we have not had huge diesel bills.  This is a huge financial relief for us.

Keeping the panels clean is a big job but adds greatly to the amount of clean energy generated.  The thing that surprised me is the overview of the system and I find it incredible that the amount of coal that would have been burnt to provide this one little farm with electricity is one ton in six weeks.  This gave me a huge wakeup call as to how important clean energy from the sun is.

We are having to install fibre cable for the internet, and it felt as if we had to dig miles of trench to lay the cable.  Thanks to the incredibly hard-working staff we did this in just one week.

Not only have we been digging trenches but have also been the local road maintenance crew.

Eskom installed a new cable and left rocks and pebbles lying on the road which we had to clean up so people who visited us didn’t damage their cars.

We also got fed up with the number of aliens on a stretch of road next door to us so we removed all the aliens and burnt them.  Once again, I am so proud of my staff who are so dedicated to helping me with some of the outlandish projects I think up.

When you walk around the gardens and see all the nets covering the Aloe flowers, you might wonder what the reason for this is.  Aloes hybridise very easily, so by netting the flowers, we prevent the hybridisation, and we can then collect pure seed to grow this spring.

Paul acts as the pollinator and uses tiny brushes to mimic the natural pollinators to ensure that the seed we harvest is pure.

We also make sure that there are plenty of “free” aloe flowers for the pollinators to visit. Aloe flowers are a vital source of food for many insects and birds, for both pollen and nectar.


Seeing how many people were in need of food last month was upsetting and a stark reminder of how many people are unemployed with very little resources.  However, I was also excited, as I found a mill willing to provide Mealie Meal at a much better price. which is one of the reasons we were able to do so many parcels in July.

I am overcome with gratitude, towards a person who has been donating an amazing R10 000.00 per month (what a difference this has made to the number of parcels we can make).  This huge donation, together with your immense, ongoing generosity, has enabled us to distribute 300 food parcels to needy families this month.  It is both touching and heartwarming to be the recipient of such goodwill.

I am not sure if you are aware of how impactful your donations on the community we assist are – it makes an appreciable difference to the whole community.

If you are able to continue assisting us in this work these are the banking details

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

I would also like to remind you that every cent that is donated goes to the purchase of food only and not to any other expense (these are carried by Random Harvest).

Visit on this day – there will be a small gift waiting for all the ladies to show our appreciation of their ongoing support of Random Harvest.


By the time of the next bird walk we should have Lapwings nesting and some of the migrants may be back - it promises to be an exciting walk.  The pre rain flowers in the grassland should also be starting to shoot and flower.

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

Lance Robinson will take the bird walk on 23rd September.
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

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 


Please remember to bring a few non-perishable food items for our food parcels.

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

Date: Wednesday 6th September 2023 at 10h30
Paul and Jonathan will do a demonstration of how we grow indigenous plants from seed.

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


Lindsay’s courses will resume in September as follows.  

3 Day Garden Design Master Class: 10 – 12 October
Practical Gardener Training:  Thursday, 7 September, & Friday, 13 October
Designing & Planting an Indigenous Garden: Saturday, 14 October

Look for more detailed information in the next newsletter or contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or email [email protected]


If you enjoy farm life and walking on the farm August and September are a marvelous time to spend a few nights with us in the cottages.

There is a burgeoning of life around us, which I think people who live in cities miss.  Each early Spring day brings different birds calls and the plants transform quickly.  It is always a joy to see, smell and hear the changes in nature going on around one with the onset of spring.

Added to this, my staff are really kind and attuned to our guests needs, it is our pleasure to serve you in any way we can to make your stay memorable.

If you are looking for a peaceful spot to hold training sessions and business meetings, we are a perfect venue.  We can accommodate up to 20 people in the cottages and up to 50 in the training venue.


Invite the Women you love to enjoy a High Tea here at Random Harvest on Women’s Day, Wednesday the 9th August.  We have had nothing but great reviews on both the venue and the food.  

In our busy lives we seldom have the time to just spend with loved ones and chat, make this a day to do just that with the people you love and respect.

With the onset of spring, it may be a good time to relax in the garden and enjoy a picnic and listen to the birds.

Both the High Tea and picnic need to be booked in advance.
Please contact Paul on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 


What better way to spend a cold day than to light a wonderfully scented candle and curl up with a book on indigenous plants which can help transport you to where the plants grow without leaving your house.  There are also books full of inspiration on how to turn your garden into a mini nature reserve.

Soya Candles in a ceramic pot with hand sculpted decorations on top R395.00 (a wonderful gift for a good friend)

A few books on interesting topics that we have in the shop are:

  • Creative Indigenous Garden design by Bruce Stead just R200.00 per copy.  (All the proceeds from the sale of these books goes to our food parcel fund)
  • Gardening for butterflies R371.00 – practical steps to ensure butterflies take up residence in your garden.
  • People’s plants R495.00 – A storehouse of knowledge on what an important role plants have in our lives.
  • Pooleys trees R528.00 – Learn about all the magic of our indigenous trees.
  • Mountain flowers R466.00 – Learn about the wonderful plants growing in the Drakensberg and make your next visit magical. 

After winter we have dry and some of us painful hands ‘Down to Earth’ African Potato cream will help with this R198.00

Janet Carter Hand Cream R94.50 to soothe hard working hands after a day in the garden.


My staff have been busy creating a new display garden on just how beautiful and how much of a haven for wildlife you can create in a small space.  They even had me picking up a spade to assist them.

I hope you will be inspired to create a beautiful garden that is good for your soul, attracts wildlife and even grows some veggies for you to enjoy.

With spring in the air our thoughts go to gardening.  If you need help with this bring along a few pictures and measurements of your garden and we will help you with some ideas on how to create a beautiful garden bed that is wildlife friendly.

Alternately if you would like someone to come out to your garden we can help.  There is a charge for the consultation which is deductible from the price of the plants you purchase from us.  We charge R300.00 per hour this will be deducted at a rate of 1 hour charged for, for every R3000.00 spent on plants.  The traveling charge is not deductible.

For more information or to book a consultation, contact us on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]

Mid-August is the time to start lawn dressing.  Please visit our website for instructions   (Seven Steps on How to get a Beautiful Lawn this Spring | Random Harvest News)


We will be visiting KwaZulu Natal to take part in the SANA trade fair on the 2nd August.  For those of our clients in the area we would love to see you and chat with you on that day.

EVENT for Wholesale Customers

Our Wholesale discussion morning for the month of August 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: 26th August 9h00 Booking essential: Please confirm attendance with Sarie on 082-553-0791


Whilst the trees are still leafless or have thinning leaves, check if they have been attacked by the dreaded Shot Hole Borer.

Check for oozing gum, powdery exudate or other signs of the borer.  If you suspect an attack, please give us a call as we have an environmentally friendly solution to help save your trees.  

I would like to mention that it is a bit early to spray right now as the trees need to be in leaf for optimal absorption of the fungicide.  

If you find bites on your trees contact us early as this gives enough time to inspect your trees, give you a quotation and program your spray.


Oxalis purpurea - Grand Duchess Sorrel 
This hardy, dwarf, mounding, bulbous groundcover is deciduous for a few short months in summer.  It has bright green trifoliate, clover-like leaves which in themselves are attractive.  The form we grow flowers en masse with large white, trumpet shaped flowers with a yellow throat and continues flowering for at least half the year. It attracts many pollinating insects to the garden.  Plant between steppingstones, as a groundcover or create beautiful container plants.   This tough little plant grows in sun or semi-shade. Size 6 to 7cm

Euphorbia pulvinata - Prickly-leaved Cushion Euphorbia 
Very hardy flat succulent plant that forms, compact cushion-like mounds of stout, angled stems with spines on the ridges.  The leaves are barely noticeable as the green stems take on the process of photosynthesis.  It bears yellow flowers in spring and summer that attract a whole host of insects.  Plant in full sun in a rockery, succulent bed or container.  Plant in well-drained soil in full sun and although it is a succulent water once every 7 to 10 days in summer. Plant Size 50cm

Burchellia bubalina - Wild Pomegranate 
Hardy, evergreen, beautiful shrub with attractive, stiff, slightly leathery, glossy, dark-green leaves.  It bears clusters of gorgeous tubular, apricot-coloured flowers on and off throughout the year but with its main flush from Aug. to Dec. The flowers have copious amounts of nectar which attracts birds, butterflies, and other insects.  It flowers more profusely when grown in sunnier spots.  This compact beautiful shrub makes a wonderful container plant or backdrop to a shady bed.   Grow in sun, semi-shade or even shade, in very well-composted soil.   Size: 1.5 to 3m     S.A. No. 688

Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Pigs Ear’ - Pig’s Ear 
This very hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, succulent shrublet has smooth, round, green leaves that are edged with red.  The umbels of pendulous, orange-red flowers grow on long stalks and are borne from June to Aug.   The nectar in the flowers attracts birds, bees and other insects.  It is also an important medicinal plant.  This plant looks great planted in pockets in a rock garden.  Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil. Size: 40 to 80cm

Stachys aethiopica ‘Pink’ - African Stachys 
Hardy, evergreen, spreading groundcover, with beautiful pale green, almost quilted leaves.  It bears spikes of small, pink, tubular flowers mainly in spring but with a few flowers almost all year round.  They attract to the garden a myriad of tiny insects which provide food for lizards and frogs.  An attractive groundcover that grows in both sun and semi-shade.  Plant in hanging baskets, along borders or in containers.  It requires well-drained soil and at least half day sun.  Prune lightly and regularly to keep in shape. Size: 25 to 35cm

Faucaria tuberculosa - Pebbled Tiger Jaws 
Hardy, strange looking small, clump forming succulent plant.  The rosettes of triangular leaves are edged with soft white teeth making it look like a hungry green monster.  The leaves are dotted with scattered white spots called tubercles. In winter and spring, it will flower with large glossy ‘Vygie’ type flowers which only open in full sunlight and attract many pollinating insects.  This handsome little plant makes a great container plant or plant in a rockery.  Plant in well-drained soil, full sun and water sparingly. Size 10 to 15cm


Isolepis cernua – Fibre Optic grass 
Hardy, evergreen, eye-catching, bright-green sedge with delicate, fine, grass-like leaves.  Year round it bears tiny, silvery-white flowers on the tips of the m op-like, fine, grassy stems making them look like fibre-optic threads.  Planted in shallow water the arching leaves that trail in the water provide shelter for frogs, tadpoles and fish fry. It is useful for waterside plantings, in well-watered beds or use your imagination to create interesting container plantings.  If the leaves get too long, give it a haircut in spring or summer when it is growing actively.  Plant in full sun or semi-shade. Size: 10 to 20cm

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, which attract pollination insects.  It is a beautiful addition to any garden and makes a wonderful container subject. It prefers semi-shade but grows well in shade as well and requires moist, compost rich-soil.  It makes a pretty cut flower. Size: 20cm

Aloe parvibracteata 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.  In winter (Jun. to Aug.), dull-red or coral-red flowers are borne on tall, branched flowering stems.  Insects and sunbirds are attracted to their copious nectar.  Use in a grassland garden or plant en masse for a stunning display.  It 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.

Dovyalis rhamnoides - Sourberry 
Fairly hardy, evergreen, bushy shrub or slender small tree with grey bark.  Long, very sharp, slender spines are massed on the branches.  The beautiful, glossy, dark-green leaves are arranged horizontally on one plane.  The tiny creamy-green flowers are borne from Jun. to Sept.  Male and female flowers are on separate plants, therefore only female plants will bear fruit.   The flowers are followed by oval, bright red, fleshy fruit that is edible and can be used to make a preserve.  The fruit attracts birds to the garden.  This decorative tree is a useful addition to a security hedge.  Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil. Size: 1 to 7m  S.A. No. 509

Leonotis leonurus - Wild Dagga 
Very hardy, evergreen, drought- and frost-resistant, perennial shrub. This well-loved, decorative shrub has masses of showy, compact clusters of orange, white or tawny velvety flowers repeated in circles up the length of every long stalk from Feb. to Jul.  An important food and nectar plant for Sunbirds, bees and butterflies during autumn and winter.  Plant in sun or semi-shade and cut back severely after flowering, for denser growth and mass flowering the next season.  Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-drained, well-composted soil. Size: up to 2m

BIODIVERSITY GARDENING TIP- A well thought out diversity of indigenous plants

At the very core of who Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery is, lies the vast variety of indigenous plants that we grow. It is true that they are the livelihood of many who work here, but that is not why we grow them. We grow these plants out of a deep conviction that gardeners all over the country play an ever-vital role in supporting the wildlife in and around our cities and the diminishing wild areas. A diversity of available indigenous plants is essential to support a complex and balanced diversity of animal life.

We hold the opportunity for all creatures able to frequent our gardens, to survive, and even to thrive, by planting a well thought out diversity of indigenous plants in our gardens. 

I often think we should re-name indigenous gardens to “intelligent” gardens, or “nature-supporting” gardens, as this is really what they are.  If you walk through your garden or sit on your balcony garden and really pay attention to what visits the plants, you will get a good idea of what support you can offer by including other plants and is working already. Our blog page holds a host of articles on suggestions of what to plant to attract certain creatures to the garden. Have a look at some of these articles.

As far as possible, 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. Our blog on How to create a Highveld Garden with Locally Indigenous Plants gives a good list of species to start with, all of which have some benefit to local wildlife.


Jeff and I were so excited!  When we were at the dam we saw this strange bird from a little distance away, imagine our surprise when we got closer, and it was a Black Duck with 6 tiny babies.  Oh, my word they are so cute!  We sat there entranced for about half an hour just watching them.  We have only seen Black Duck 2 or 3 times before as this is not ideal habitat and to cap it all they are the first duck babies we have had on the dam.

There are 3 Moorhen babies on the dam.  They are so tiny and so cheeky, strutting past the Herons almost daring them to try and make a meal of them.

I don’t take chances with the babies on the dam and send Sam down there to work and keep an eye that all the babies don’t get eaten.

We are busy cutting the veld grass in preparation for burning.  If you take a walk down to the grassland you are likely to see beautiful Highveld scenes like the Guinea Fowl taking flight, a Mongoose peeping out at you between the grasses, or a termite mound nestled in amongst the grasses.

There are many more denizens of the grassland that are not so obvious but play a huge part in the health of the grasslands, act as a food source for creatures there and generally contribute to the health of the ecosystem.

The autumn and winter colours are also at their best.  This is a dimension of the grassland that is very under appreciated.

Andre Marx made such a huge contribution to birding generally and especially at Random Harvest, so we decided to install a bench at the dam in his memory.  Now you have a nice comfortable place to sit when visiting the dam.

I was so enchanted the other morning when this whole flock of tiny Cape White Eyes descended on the grindstone outside my house to drink and bathe.  I was completely fascinated.

I am so lucky to live in a place where I am blessed with these magical moments when one feels so deeply grateful to live on such a beautiful planet.

If you take a walk in the garden, you may see and hear the Brown Hooded Kingfisher that have been very active in the garden hunting insects.

It is always a relief to realise that we do still have a lot of insects on the farm when so many areas are devoid of insect life which is a stark sign of environmental damage.

Planting indigenous plants helps even the tiniest of insects which are so vital as pollinators of our crops.

An example of this is the tiny insects that are always on and around the Cotula sericea (Silky Buttons).  This small plant is an example of how even the smallest of gardens or a pot on a balcony can make a difference to the biodiversity in our built-up areas.

The bees are very busy with all the flowers, like these feasting on the Bulbinellas in my mother plant section.

The Kniphofia species have been in full flower and have been a hive of activity with the insects and sunbirds that have been in constant attendance of the flowers.

Following the Kniphofias the Vygies coming into flower ensuring a constant abundance of pollen and nectar for wildlife.

The butterfly in the picture is the Dancing Acraea (Telchinia serena).  This was very exciting as it is the first time, we have seen it here at Random Harvest.  What a lovely common name it has.

We haven’t forgotten the fruit and seed eating birds here at Random Harvest, but as you can see from the picture, we have to protect some seeds for planting, or the birds will clean us out.  We always make sure there is enough for all.

We should never forget what a beautiful and magical country we live in.  Where else would you get such beautiful African skies or gorgeous sunrises that take your breath away with their beauty.

I, for one, am deeply grateful and privileged to live in such a beautiful land and on such a beautiful farm. It also makes my heart glad to know that I am doing my best to perpetuate the natural balance and beauty of our land. And you make my heart glad too, for each time you buy indigenous plants from us and plant them in your gardens, you spread the magic and beauty of life that our local plants support.

Take time out and pay us a visit and share some of the magic, peace and beauty of this extraordinary farm.




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email [email protected]

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