Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - September 2023

Posted On: Friday, September 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Although it is still early spring, the plants are budding with tender green leaves and with each one my heart lifts – they are so beautiful and miraculous.  I never tire of watching the cycles and miracles of nature all around us.


We are having to pave around the solar panels as the dust from vehicles is covering the panels and making it a nightmare to keep them clean.  So far, I have managed to recycle most of the paving from rubble heaps in our recycling area.

I have come across a new term -’Agrovoltaics’ (farming under solar panels).    Our form of Agrovoltaic farming is to grow our mother plants under the panels.  So far, the plants we have there seem to be thriving as the panels are high and allow a lot of sun in.  I will keep you posted with the results.

We were excited to have people from Emantini Botanical Garden in Swaziland with us for training.  We went through the nursery production system, and they visited Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden where Andrew showed them around and taught them a lot, as he does for us, every time we see him.

The tractors have been busy cutting and baling grass so that we can stockpile it for use in our compost making process.  This is a monster job at the end of every winter but contributes to the wonderful compost we make here to use in our potting mixes.

The nursery is a hive of activity as we gear up for propagation of our new crop of plants.  It is always such an exciting time for me.  After all these years I am still excited when I see the seeds starting to germinate with the promise of new life and rebirth.  It is a continuous reminder of the cycles of life and how wonderful nature is and how privileged we are to work with the natural world.

Make a note that we are open on Heritage Day September 24th (and day off Monday, 25th September) and perhaps enjoy an outing and celebrate our natural heritage of marvelous, miraculous Indigenous Plants.


We are changing how we distribute the food parcels.  We are identifying specific families in need and will be delivering the parcels directly to their homes.  This will give us more control, ensuring that the food parcels are a dire need to the families that receive them.  Random Harvest will fund and assist these targeted families in other ways, for example school supplies for the children, medical issues and so on.

 I am deeply grateful for your ongoing support and hope this new way of doing things will make a bigger impact on people’s lives.

If you are willing to continue with your invaluable support our banking details are:

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


On the previous bird walk the weather was so misty it looked like we were in England.

Jeffrey captured this moment with Lance looking as if he was praying that we see birds in this misty weather.

His prayers were answered as they saw 45 birds on this morning.

The next bird walks are as follows.

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

Chris Hines will take the walk on 7th October.
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 


Join us for an informative talk on this dreaded pest.  Jonathan and Linda will give a PowerPoint presentation and talk about the life cycle of this beetle, how it affects trees and what treatment is available.

If you need help, please bring along a few pictures of the trees you suspect may be infected. We would need a picture of the whole tree and a close-up picture of what you think may be telltale signs of the borer.

Date: 16th September Time: 10h00
Cost: R50.00 per person this includes tea or coffee and scones.

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

Date: Wednesday 4th October 2023 at 10h30
A short talk on how to create habitat for birds in the garden followed by a bird walk with Jeffrey to spot birds in the garden.  If you have binoculars please bring them along and we have a few pairs available for those of you who don’t have them.

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.  

Practical Gardener Training        13th October- 8:30am to 3:30pm
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.

Maintaining your Garden 14th October 
Lindsay is offering a comprehensive morning workshop on how to care for your garden throughout the year. This workshop details the five most important aspects of good garden maintenance, that will soon become a pleasure for you and not a chore! It also ties in with what she teaches on the Practical Gardener Training course.

For more detailed information contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or email [email protected]


If you are already making plans for your family for this coming holiday season, please remember our lovely comfortable, peaceful country cottages. The most remarkable thing about a stay at Random Harvest Cottages is that amidst all the chaos of and business of life you arrive in an atmosphere of love and calm. The children will get a full farm experience as they can visit the turkeys, watch the cows being milked and take part in nature themed activities.

There are many interesting places to visit in the vicinity such as the Maropeng interactive museum and the Lion and Rhino Park.


We are busy cleaning, watering, and sprucing the gardens up.  With spring in the air, it is a perfect time for a picnic in the garden.  

Enjoy a basket of homemade eats made with the freshest and best of ingredients.

If this is not for you, sit in the tea garden under the indigenous trees and enjoy the peace, birdsong and homemade and home baked food to tickle your taste buds.


Frans has filled the shop with his homemade bakes of our unique and delicious Rusks, Anzac Biscuits and Ginger Biscuits.  He also has a knack for fudge and has filled a basket with these sweet treats.

Remember the delicious, not overly sweet jams produced from the fruit grown here at Random Harvest.

Ronald has also made some small notebooks using Heathers sensitive wildlife art.  They were a hit with our Women’s Day visitors, so we have added them to the shop as well.

I have written a colour booklet on ‘Plants for Small Gardens’.  Be the first to get your copy and I hope it inspires you to create your own colourful, natural garden to enjoy.

Now is the time to feed the whole garden with an organic fertiliser like 3:1:5 or 2:3:2. Add a generous layer of compost – it will improve the condition of the soil and act as mulch.


To help you create a sanctuary in your garden we are offering MYSTERY DISCOUNTS for the whole of September.  Draw a ticket and see what discount you will receive.  The minimum is 5% while the top end is 20% with others in between.

Have a bit of fun and see how lucky you are with your draw.

GARDEN LAYOUT assistance.  

Bring along some pictures of your garden and measurements of the garden or bed and we will help you select the perfect plants for what you want to create in your garden.  If you would like to speak to Jeffrey or myself, please would you make an appointment to ensure we have sufficient time.  This is a free service, but we do expect you to buy your plants from Random Harvest.

This is the month to start working on your lawns.  September is a particularly dry month, so be sure to water late in the afternoons so that the water you use enables the soil to stay moist all night.  Remember to adhere to any water restrictions there may be in your area.

Once the lawn is watered aerate it with a spike roller or fork and spread lawn dressing or fine compost thinly.  Go to this link on our website for more detailed information.  Seven Steps on How to get a Beautiful Lawn this Spring | Random Harvest News)

Most people overwater their gardens - rather water deeply once a week.  Sprinkling you gardens with little bits of water does not do much good and is a waste of water.  Mulch your garden so that all the water you use goes directly into the soil and does not evaporate.

There are a lot of plants starting to bloom to cheer up your garden after winter.  It is the perfect time to add colour to your garden – we all love flowers, and they make one feel a lot better about life, especially with the wildlife that attends your colourful indigenous plants.


We would like to invite our Wholesale customers to come and pay us a visit and browse the selection of more unusual trees, shrubs and other plants that we grow that are not always used in gardens. If you have a need for something a bit more special let us know and we will gladly make suggestions of what can be used. There is always a golf cart ready to facilitate browsing if time is of the essence.

ARBOR ASSIST – Saving our trees.

With the onset of spring and temperatures starting to get warmer, the PSHB beetles start to get active again in the trees. Start looking out for signs of infection from this pest such as defoliation of the tree’s canopy, branches dying off and any unnatural excretion such as gum, sap or sawdust from stems and branches. We offer a natural ecofriendly solution that targets and kills the fungus spread by the beetles in trees. We are able to treat trees effectively using a high-pressure spraying machine, please contact us for an onsite quotation. For more info., call Jonathan on 076-830-5242


If you are a runner please join in this fun run and help support Walter Sisulu National Botanical garden to keep up the good work.


Bowkeria cymosa - Escarpment Shellflower (E)
Very hardy, evergreen, multi-stemmed, large shrub or it can be pruned into a tiny tree.  A lovely garden subject, with its quilted leaves and large, pendulous, sprays of small, shell-shaped, white flowers with maroon speckles in the throat.   When in full bloom it looks like a snow-white ball.  The flowers are borne all year round and attract tiny pollinating insects.  This shrub deserves pride of place with its gorgeous flowers.  Use as a screening plant or backdrop to a bed.  It takes well to pruning, which encourages mass flowering and will keep this beautiful shrub to the size you want. Plant in sun or semi-shade.

Curtisia dentata - Assegai (E)
This gorgeous, hardy evergreen tree has a beautiful shape and makes an outstanding container plant.  The young growth is velvety to the touch as it is covered with bronze-coloured hairs making this a magnificent foliage plant. The flowers are insignificant but followed by decorative fruits that attract birds and game.  It makes a beautiful specimen tree with its upright growth form.  It is becoming very scarce as it has been harvested for its beautiful wood and also for traditional medicinal purposes.  As it is a forest tree which also grows in the open it can be grown in sun, shade or semi-shade but does require a cool spot and regular watering.
Size: 7 to 15m    S.A. No. 570

Eucomis autumnalis - Pineapple Lily (E)  
When you see this wonderful bulb popping up in the grasslands where they occur naturally the flower spikes look like tiny ‘Men from Mars’.  This very hardy, deciduous plant has attractive broad leaves.  The white to pale, yellow-green flowers are closely packed and carried in spikes at the end of the flowering stem.  The flower spike is topped with a tuft of green bracts on top, which gives the flower the look of a pineapple. It is beautiful grown in amongst grasses or simply use it as a container plant.  They make wonderful long lasting cut flowers and will change over weeks in the vase.  Plant in sun or a little light shade. Size: 25 to 30cm

Polygala myrtifolia ‘Riviersonderend’ - September Bush (E)
This is a miniature form of the well-known Polygala myrtifolia.  Hardy, evergreen, drought resistant shrublet growing to only 1m tall.  It has bright-green, lanceolate leaves. The magenta flowers are borne in lax terminal heads throughout summer and autumn, and attract Carpenter Bees, butterflies and other tiny, pollinating insects to the garden.  The seeds are relished by Laughing Doves. This handsome compact form is an ideal alternative for a small garden.   A useful garden and container plant.  Prune to keep in shape and encourage flowering. Plant in a sunny or lightly shaded position. Size: up to 1m

Melianthus dregeanus - Red Honey Flower (E)
Very hardy, evergreen, drought-resistant, fast- growing shrub that makes a beautiful ornamental feature in the garden.  The large compound leaves are neatly serrated, densely hairy and strongly aromatic.  The drooping sprays of scarlet flowers are sweet smelling and have abundant nectar which attracts insects, bees, butterflies, Sunbirds and Cape White eyes.  It is a beautiful sight when in flower from Nov. to Jan. It bears attractive, downy, papery pods.  This plant will tolerate very hot, dry or cold, frosty conditions and is ideal for a low-maintenance garden.  Prune back hard after seeding to keep in shape and to ensure mass flowering the next season.  Plant in sun and will do well with normal garden watering.  Size 1.5m

Craibia zimmermannii - Sand peawood (E)
This hardy, evergreen neatly shaped, unusual tree has dark green compound leaves and pale grey bark.  It bears masses of spectacular, snow-white, sweetly scented pea flowers in early spring and has a second flush later in the season.  These are followed by flat, woody pods.  A well-behaved tree to tickle all your senses.  It is moth pollinated and the pure white flowers glow in the dark, leading the pollinators to them.  A stunning feature tree for the smaller garden. Plant in semi-shade or shade in well composted soil.  3 to 5m


Coddia rudis - Small Boneapple (E)
Hardy, evergreen, dense, highly ornamental, small- to medium-sized shrub with glossy green leaves that are carried upwards and then curve down on gracefully arching stems.  The bell-shaped flowers, which are borne from Oct. to Mar., are creamy-yellow and hang below the branches like little bells.  The round, greenish-brown fruit is edible and attracts birds to the garden.  Its interesting branching patterns and weeping form make for an unusual and beautiful accent plant.  This versatile shrub can be used for screening, covering embankments, in bush clumps, in containers and as a bonsai subject.  Ideal for smaller gardens as they take well to pruning.  Plant in sun or semi-shade. Size: 1 to 3m S.A. No. 689.1

Buddleja glomerata - Karoo Sagewood (E)
Very hardy, evergreen, large shrub or small tree with light brown bark that peels off in strings.  The branchlets are light green and covered in white hairs.  The silvery, quilted leaves are a beautiful feature and add colour and texture to a garden bed.  From Sept. to Mar. the dense heads of yellow flowers are borne.  Unusually for a Buddleja, the flowers are not sweet smelling, although they still attract many insects, including bees and butterflies, to the garden.  Use as a small tree, focal point, windbreak, part of a mixed border or as a hedge.  Prune after flowering to keep it in shape.  Plant in full sun.  Once it is established it needs minimal water. Size: up to 4m     S.A. No. 636.1

Delosperma versicolor
Hardy, evergreen, prostrate, succulent groundcover with a woody taproot. The narrow, leaves are red tipped and have glistening water vesicles (tiny bladders) that will reflect harsh sunlight to protect the plant and add texture to your plantings.  The beautiful, variously coloured flowers also glisten in the sunlight and are borne almost all summer.  They may become dormant in cold weather but will sprout again in spring.  The flowers attract bees and insects to the garden which in turn attract birds.  The birds will also eat the leaves at times.  This attractive succulent is easy to grow and does well on banks, in rockeries or succulent beds. Plant in well-drained soil in sun. Size 10 to 20cm


As we are entering a very hot and dry time of the year, I thought it would be good to focus on providing water in our gardens for wildlife.

Water in the garden is essential to encourage wildlife to visit.  When providing water for tiny garden creatures, as well as for many birds, the key is to make sure that at least some of the water is shallow enough to walk in and out of. Popping a few rocks or rough pebbles in shallow water serves this purpose for insects and other small garden wildlife.

Bury shallow dishes or grindstones strategically in the garden - in the open, at the base of trees and in between rocks to provide for most of the wildlife in the garden.  Bury the dishes just above the soil level.  The water should be available for birds, lizards, spiders, and other insects to be able to utilise it easily.  Place enough small rocks and stones or pebbles and bits of wood around the dishes to create habitat for lizards and other creatures.  This will also give the water area a natural look which is aesthetically pleasing.

Then arrange suitable plants around the water to add quality to the habitat provided for wildlife. We are always happy to help with suitable plant choices.

You can even make water accessible to wildlife on a flat balcony or in a tiny townhouse garden.  Place water dishes strategically so that it is as visible to as many passing birds and insects as possible. 

It is VITAL to keep checking that shallow dishes of water do not dry out and leave creatures without water. Remember that placing the water in shaded areas helps minimise evaporation.


Life on a farm definitely runs in cycles and each year and there is always something new to learn.

August was our time for burning the grassland.  An interesting observation was that the post-burn new growth of the grass on the patch of grassland that has only been free of the cows for two years was much slower than on the surrounding grassland that hasn’t been grazed for many years.  These two pictures illustrate it perfectly  .

The birds always love the newly burnt areas.  The Herons are there every day.  I am not sure if they are eating roasted insects or catching live ones that have nowhere to hide and serve up a quick and easy meal.

The Guinea Fowl in particular, love it when we cut the grass.  It means they can get to the seeds on the ground.  We have been seeing flocks of up to thirty birds feasting on the exposed seeds.  I think they are one of the iconic birds of the grasslands and I love watching them as they go about their business.

The birds just love the compost areas as well.  Any time you go past there when no one is around, you are sure to see them foraging in the compost heaps for fat juicy worms, other insects and seeds.

The Thick Knees also enjoy the burnt areas as well.  What I love is that they are starting their breeding season and I hear their wonderful melodious call at night.

Talking of night sounds, late the other night the Spotted Eagle Owl was calling in the garden near my bedroom window.  I played the call on my Roberts App on my cell phone to him.  We had quite a long conversation with him answering me.  Happiness!

I kept hearing this wonderful call on the avenue of trees down the nursery road.  Although I am not good with bird sounds, I thought it may be a Bush Shrike.  Sure enough, when Chris took the bird walk the first bird they saw was a Grey-Headed Bush Shrike – how exciting was that!

He is a really beautiful bird with a most wonderful gentle call.

Jeffrey was so excited to get this picture of the elusive Golden-tailed Woodpecker.  He has been trying for ages.  This year the woodpecker has been very vocal in the garden.  Maybe he is looking for a mate.  We will keep a look out and see if we can identify a nest.

Another super bird sighting on the bird walk was the Fairy Flycatcher.  They were lucky to spot it before it left to migrate back to the Highlands of Lesotho for the summer.   Ronald has been running around the whole winter season trying to get a decent picture of this tiny bird.  To his great excitement. his efforts paid off with this lovely picture.

This little dove found a convenient Aloe leaf to nest on. A perfectly shaped safe spot to raise its babies.

David is such a sissy, he nearly jumped out of his skin when this tiny Gecko was crawling around on his chair.  Needless to say, he has been teased about this unmercifully.

The Sunbirds have been feasting off the last flowers of this season’s Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) and Aloe flowers. When these plants are in bloom is the best time to see sunbirds.

It is not only the birds who have taken advantage of the late winter flowers but the butterflies as well.  It is always surprising to see these cold-blooded creatures flitting from flower to flower on such chilly days.

The butterflies seem to be relishing the nectar of the Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia violaceae) flowers.

They have also been abundant in the patch of Namaqualand Daisies we grow.  Thank Goodness for them carrying out their duty of pollinating the flowers, as this patch is where we harvest seeds to plant next season.  

There have been a lot of spider webs in the grassland and the garden.  If one takes time to actually observe the intricacies of the spider webs and think of the tiny creatures that construct it, it confirms how miraculous nature is and how it is our duty to preserve it and all the life around us.

The Weeping Boerbean (Schotia brachypetala) are full of buds - promising a bumper flowering season and a bounty of nectar for all manner of creatures who live at Random Harvest.

The Clivias are budding in the garden.  In a few weeks, when these beautiful flowers are fully opened, there promises to be a stunning display for all to enjoy.

I thought I would share this picture of pastoral peacefulness with you.  It is hard to believe that I am living in such a place so close to the city and all its conveniences. It is a truly charmed life I lead.

Happy spring and hope you have time to visit soon.


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