Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2023

Posted On: Sunday, October 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

There is a burgeoning of life in the nursery many of the trees are in bloom and there is a whole different feeling of optimism permeating the air.

The Erythrinas in particular are spectacular this year and the birds and insects are rejoicing at the bountiful nectar they offer at the perfect time, just before breeding season.


When Jeffrey and I have a bright idea, it always means a lot of effort from my long-suffering staff.

We decided that it was time to up the quality of the plants we supply.  We are busy moving all the plants, sweeping the lines, pruning the plants, spraying them with environmentally friendly fertilisers and re packing the lines – what a mammoth job.  Although we are not yet done the plants are looking great.  A big thank you to my dedicated staff.

Another ongoing chore is to clean the solar panels which makes a huge difference to the electricity we generate.  I am busy installing another line of panels which should make us quite independent.

Talking of solar panels, I want to thank Steven of R & D Loadfed, who installed our solar system, his installation was efficient and particularly well executed.  Mostly I am grateful for his after sales service.  He has taught us a huge amount and is endlessly patient with our many questions and sorting out any hiccups quickly and efficiently.  If you are thinking of installing solar, I would not hesitate to recommend him.  His phone number is 064-044-2640.


There was a huge fire in an informal settlement nearby where many people lost everything.  We gave them all food parcels and I bought blankets and a few other necessities for them.  I am not sure if our donors realise what a huge impact they have on people’s lives and once again would like to express my sincere gratitude for the help with this project which is so close to my heart.

We are constantly checking that the people who receive the parcels are genuinely in need.  We have thus begun handing out parcels with the help of the church Jeffrey attends and he, at the same time, oversees the whole process, making sure that your donations land up in the right homes.

If you are able and 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.  

If any of our overseas readers would like to support this worthy initiative our Swift Code is FIRNZAJJ8


With a bit of luck, the Paradise Flycatchers may be back by the time of the next bird walk on the 7th October. You would be the first to see them when they arrive here this season.  It is the time of year that I look forward to hearing their first cheerful calls in the garden.  

Hopefully you will see lots of other returning migrants.

Chris Hines will take this bird walk which should be interesting as he is an ecologist and will be happy to impart all sorts of interesting information on the environment around you and the grassland which is starting to bloom.

Date: 7th October.

Time: 6h30 for 7h00
Cost: R185.00 per person, this includes a delicious breakfast buffet 
Booking is essential - please contact Ronald on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 
The next bird walks will be with Chris on Saturday the 4th November and Lance on Sunday 3rd December.


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

Date: Wednesday 4th October 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Creating habitat for birds in the garden

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.

Date: Wednesday 1st November, 2023 at 10h30
Topic: A walk in the Random Harvest Grassland

Jeffrey will take a walk in the grassland which should be looking great at this time.  Of course, this is assuming we have had some rain, although even when it is dry it has its own beauty. 


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.  Attendees receive a certificate of attendance for this course.

Essential Steps to Designing and Planting your Garden: 14th October 

Lindsay will share sustainable ways of caring for and nourishing your garden, pruning techniques, lawn care and creating a garden that attracts wildlife that controls pests naturally. This information will help you to care for your garden with confidence.

The last Practical Gardener Training for this year will be held on 1st December 2023

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


We are always striving to improve the cottages and the service to our guests who choose to stay with us. 

One of the suggestions was that we eliminate the interleading door between Rock Fig Cottage and Bushwillow Cottage.  We had placed the door there to create a family unit, but this did lead to a bit of loss of privacy.

We have now closed off the door. The transformation has turned each of these stars into two cozy and private accommodation units.  

We believe it is still suitable as for families as the units are joined and the outside doors are close together.

If you have any more suggestions on how we can improve we would appreciate it if you would take the time to let us know as this helps keep us up to date on our guests’ needs and improve our service.


I can’t believe I am about to talk to you about Christmas – I am not sure what happened to this year which has just flown by.  Be that as it may I would like to remind you that we have the Boma which is a wonderful venue for your year-end functions.  Both my staff and I will go out of our way to provide you with great food and service and if there are any extras, we will do our best to accommodate you.  Please contact Ronald on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 

It is also Mulberry time again on the farm.  People have loved the Mulberry cordial, Mulberry jam and Mulberry Pie.  We will be busy replenishing our stocks to be able to serve you with these unusual and delicious treats.

Frans has baked two new cookies – Coconut and Almond and choc chip cookies which will be available in the shop.


We have managed to get a stock of the indigenous Helichrysum splendidum (Curry Bush) essential oil and moisturiser containing this essential oil.  It is a wonderful product for older skins (like mine) and contains anti-microbial, anti-biotic and regenerative compounds that promote healthy skin cell growth and regeneration. It is said to speed up the healing of wounds, burns, and rashes and reduce scarring. 

One of its many other benefits is the essential oil’s soothing and calming effect on our spirits.  It helps us remember what nature has provided for us in its daily peace, beauty and the miraculous web of life.

Heather and I have written a booklet on how to create a ‘Biodiversity Garden’ full of tips and instructions of how to go about creating a planet friendly garden even in small spaces.  This together with the booklet on ‘Plants for Small Gardens’ will help inspire you to have a beautiful, peaceful garden.

We have new stock of the ever-popular books:    

  • Making the most of indigenous trees R450.00
  • Creative gardening with indigenous plants R465.00
  • Guide to grasses of southern Africa R420.00

A Conservancy has donated the book ‘Vanishing Flora’ – a beautiful pictorial of rare indigenous plants to be sold and the proceeds go to our food parcel fund.  A huge thanks to their generosity.

We still have copies of the wonderful book ‘The Cape Orchids’ @ R1 995.00 for both magnificent books.  What a wonderful addition to a plant lovers’ library

An idea for a child’s gift is a beautiful hand crochet animal @ R195.00 for them to cuddle.


Adrian, who is as indigenous plant mad as the rest of us has joined the team and is busy upgrading the displays and the gardens in the retail.  I have known Adrian for years and am really excited to have him on board.  It is always good to speak to people who have the same passion for the plants as I do.

With the onset of spring the ‘Tiny Garden’ display is growing and coming into its own.  It is amazing how many elements of both a peoples and biodiversity garden you can fit into such a small space.  I am busy preparing a pamphlet with helpful hints on how to create you own peaceful corner to enjoy.

I would like to remind you that there is always someone on duty who will be more than happy to help you with your plant choices, how to look after them and what the best position would be for the plants to thrive in your garden – giving you endless hours of pleasure watching the wildlife that will utilise them in your garden.  It also gives a person a sense of satisfaction that you are making a positive contribution to the environment.



We would like to invite our wholesale customers to spend a morning with us discovering the magic of our local grasslands. 

The area at the bottom of the farm has been restored from black wattle infested veld to near pristine natural grassland. We will have a walk exploring the area and pointing out plants of special interest as well as gaining inspiration to recreate the effect in a garden setting.  The ecological aspects and the interaction of plants, wildlife, fire and general management of grasslands will be discussed.  The walk will be followed by a mini high tea offering sweet and savoury snacks. 

Please confirm attendance with Sarie on 082-553-0791 or email [email protected]

With spring in full swing, I thought it a good time to remind you that we are dedicated to providing the best possible service and good quality plants to you.  It is important to us that we reply to your requests as quickly as we possibly can to help in some small way to save you time and money.

Being a specialist indigenous nursery, with many plants that are not well known, we are always ready to help with ideas, plant choices and under what conditions the plants will thrive.  A visit to the nursery will amaze you with the variety of beautiful indigenous plants on offer and we would love to share a coffee and have a chat with you.  If you are short of time, we are happy to offer advice via phone or email.

We are able to deliver both large and small orders far and wide. 


Trichocladus ellipticus subsp. ellipticus - Splendid Underbush
A beautiful, hardy, evergreen tree or shrub that is seldom available.  It has beautiful dark-green, glossy leaves that are silvery-grey with velvety brown hairs below, making it a magnificent foliage plant. The yellowish-green flowers which are borne from Sept. to Dec. are carried in clusters and although quite inconspicuous, are sweetly scented.  The seed pods are velvety brown with seeds that look like ivory.   This beautiful plant grows well in sun or shade in well-composted soil.  Size up to 10m

Arctotis hybrid ‘Bronze’
This hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, spreading groundcover has attractive grey foliage that stays quite compact and neat.  It bears a multitude of colourful, large, daisy-like bronze-coloured flowers for most of the year. The flowers attract butterflies and other pollinating insects to the garden.  Because of its free-flowering habit, it makes an excellent garden and container subject.  Do not over-water and prune lightly and regularly to keep in shape.  Remove the dead flowers regularly to encourage mass flowering.  Plant in full sun or light semi-shade and in well-drained soil.  Size: 25cm

Lampranthus godmaniae - Godman Ice Plant
Hardy, robust, evergreen succulent shrublet with blue-green cylindrical leaves.  It creates a spectacular display of huge Vygie-like, glistening, magenta or pink flowers almost all year round which attract butterflies and insects to the garden.  These in turn attract birds and other wildlife to the garden.  Use in terraces, and on banks to create a dense cover or in a mixed succulent bed.  With its cascading habit is beautiful in a container.  Plant in full sun or a little partial shade in well-drained soil and water regularly.  Size: Up to 30cm 

Osteospermum ecklonis - Van Staden’s River Daisy 
Hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, bushy perennial with a rounded, spreading shape and bright green, slightly succulent leaves.  It bears large, glistening, white, daisy-like flowers that are streaked with bluish mauve below and have attractive deep-blue centres.  It makes a stunning show of flowers in spring and summer when it makes a stunning show.  It attracts many butterflies and insects to the garden.  Mass-plant as a border, use as an element of a cottage garden, or plant in a rock garden.  Prune back after flowering to keep in shape.   Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny position as the flowers close in low light.  Size: up to 75cm

Acacia grandicornuta – Horned Thorn
Hardy, deciduous, small to medium sized tree with a sparse rounded crown.  The stem has deeply and longitudinally fissured dark gray bark, while the young zigzagging branches are grey and smooth.  The leaves are borne on ‘cushions’ just above the paired, straight spines which are joined and swollen at the base, resembling ‘horns’, hence the common name.  The white puff-ball flowers are borne from Feb. to Aug. and attract insects and birds to the garden.  They are followed by delicate ‘sickle-shaped’ woody pods. Plant in semi-shade or sun, in well-drained soil and do not over water.  Grows naturally in brackish soil. Size: up to 10m S.A. No. 167.1

Schotia brachypetala – Weeping Boerbean
Hardy, semi-deciduous (deciduous in cold areas), very decorative tree with interesting branching patterns and a rugged look.  The bark is rough and grey.  The beautiful foliage is bronze when it first flushes and goes through many different colours and textures in the different seasons.  From Aug. to Nov., it bears massed bunches of magnificent red cup-like flowers filled with so much nectar that it drips out, hence the common name. The flowers attract all manner of birds.  Some, like Sunbirds, will sip the nectar. Others, like Weavers, will make holes in the bottoms of the flowers and rob them of their nectar without pollinating them.  The flowers also attract a whole host of insects.  The pods, that are initially bright-green with a dark margin, turn beautiful glossy brown.  The large seeds are edible after they have been roasted.  It has many medicinal and traditional uses.  An excellent and ornamental garden subject for sun or semi-shade and one of our most beautiful and shapely trees.  Suitable for containers and bonsai.   Size: 3 to 16m     S.A. No. 202



Scabiosa africana - Pincushion
Hardy, evergreen, shrubby perennial with large, mounded rosettes of light green, soft-textured leaves with ruffled edges.  Masses of butterflies are attracted to the pretty, pale blueish-mauve or white flowers that are carried on long, slender stems well above the leaves.  Each head is made up of many small flowers encircled by an outer ring of flowers that have much larger petals than the inner flowers.  These are borne from Jul. to Nov. They make a long-lasting cut flower. This informal shrub adds a soft charm to the garden and is especially beautiful when grouped in a flat, wide container.  For effect, group together in flower beds.  Plant in humus-rich soil.  Where frost is bad, plant this Scabiosa in a spot that, in the mornings receives shade, not direct sunlight.  Water well in winter to encourage flowering but do not overwater. Prune old flowering stalks to keep tidy and flowering.   Size: 30 to 50cm

Dodonaea angustifolia - Sand Olive 
Very hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, fast-growing, much-branched shrub or small tree with attractive light-green, elongated leaves.   It flowers from May to Sept. with insignificant greenish-white flowers.  These are followed by attractive, inflated, winged, dark pink, papery seeds.  This decorative garden shrub is an ideal, fast-growing plant for windbreaks and screening and is also used to stabilize sandy soil.  It prunes well and makes an attractive formal hedge or can be trained into a single-stemmed, small tree for tiny gardens.   It is a useful nurse plant for helping to establish plants that may not be very hardy.  Grows in most types of soil including rocky soils. Needs little water and will do well in sun or semi-shade. Size: 2 to 7m S.A. No. 437

Cussonia sphaerocephala – Natal Forest Cabbage Tree 
A fast-growing, evergreen, fairly hardy tree.  It is tall and sparsely branched, with each branch bearing its own small spherical crown of leaves. The large, shiny, leathery, attractive leaves are red when they first appear, darken to bronze and then to dark green. The greenish flowers appear between Mar. and Jun. and are densely packed on thick spikes forming compact umbels.  The masses of purplish-black fruit that follow are small and fleshy and attract birds to the garden.  This very decorative tree is suitable for large, sheltered, shady gardens and makes a good container plant.  Do not plant Cussonia near walls, pools, pipes or paving as they have an aggressive root system. Size: 15 to 20m  S.A. No. 564.2  

Xylotheca kraussiana - African dog rose 
Hardy, evergreen, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.  It has attractive foliage but the spectacular feature is its flowers.  The brilliant white flowers with a mass of bright yellow anthers in the centre can be up to 70mm in diameter.   It flowers en masse in spring and summer with a few flowers all year found.  These are followed by oval woody pods which split into a star shape to reveal black and red seeds - another beautiful feature of this plant.   It is a great butterfly host plant and attracts many birds who relish the seeds as well as insects visiting the flowers.  Use as a feature plant, in a mixed bed in a forest garden or even as component of a bush clump.  It also makes a beautiful container plant.   Grow in semi-shade, dappled shade or in a sunny spot that does not get too hot. Size: SA Tree No: 493  


Enhancing your garden habitat for wildlife

We have focused so much on gardening for wildlife, and my message remains constant – no matter the size of your garden, you are always able to provide a place for creatures to feed, breed, nest and / or rest. In short, providing habitat is all about how you approach the idea of a garden. It’s about the choices we make to co-exist with the creatures around us rather than pushing them further out of our spaces.

In built up areas and smaller spaces, we don’t always have the advantage of being able to provide natural resting places and sufficient food for birds, bees and other creatures through the plants that we grow and having an expansive landscape to work with.  Artificial structures can work well for wildlife, as long as they meet the key requirements of the creatures we hope to attract.  Many creatures we share our gardens with aren’t particularly fussy about the appearance of a shelter or food source that is present.

Shelter: provide shelter in the form of nesting boxes and logs, that will be used by Barbets, Hoopoes, and even Bushbabies. Specially designed bat boxes provide good roosting spots for a number of species of bats, and owl houses are valuable nesting spots for these beautiful nocturnal creatures. It is important to remember that owls are territorial though, so do a bit of research before putting up an owl house. 

If there is already a resident mating pair of owls in your area, chances are that you will be unlikely to attract a willing tenant to your owl house. If you live in an area where nesting material is in short supply, you can provide natural nesting material in the form of short hair, dried longer grasses, pieces of natural yarn that are not too long (so as not to let birds’ feet get tangled in it) and even very thin pieces of left over cotton fabric when sewing. Place them in a mesh-like structure where these items can be pulled out easily and carried to the nesting place.

Bee hotels and beastie boxes will cater for the smaller wildlife. If you have young children, building a beastie box together can be great fun. You can visit our website for more information on this.

Food: There is a range of good quality food available at garden centres and nurseries, including Random Harvest Nursery. Nutritious snacks such as grubs will provide a meal for insectivorous birds, bird seed for seed eaters and many hours of entertainment can be had from watching sunbirds and other nectar feeders visiting a nectar bottle feeder. Fruit can also be put out for frugivorous birds.  Birds are not the only creatures that can be attracted by putting food out. It is also important to put out only enough food for the day.  This ensures good quality food.  An overabundance of food can have negative implications.


Of course, this month I will have a lot to say about our beloved grassland.  It is such an exciting time in the grassland as after the fire all the pre-rain flowers are popping up. 

Jeffrey and I were in a big competition to spot the first flower, which, much to my disgust he spotted and beat me.  It was this picture of the Ledebouria pictured here in amongst the burnt grass stubble.  

It is so miraculous to see the flowers sprouting in the bone-dry soil.  With the life of a grassland mainly underground many plants use their resources to be the first ones to attract pollinators.

The Bulbine abyssinica are in full flower.  These amazing plants are not affected by the fire at all and are green whilst the area around them is blackened by the fire.

One of the very first flowers to bloom is the Gazania krebsiana.  As you can see the butterflies are also rejoicing at these beautiful flowers.

Jeffrey and I were so thrilled to see the white form for the first time in our grassland. 

I had to share the news with Paul, who does our seed propagation and is also crazy about plants.  He was hoping to collect seed but when he got there the flower had disappeared and he thought it had been dug up.  What happens when it is finished flowering is that the leaves disappear underground and only the seed head remains, and he had been looking in the wrong place.  Luckily Jeff located the seed head again so hopefully we will be able to start growing them.

The Tulbaghia acutiloba are blooming.  They have edible leaves and sweet-smelling flowers.  Being a bit taller they will flower for a long time before the grasses shade them out and they retreat underground. 

At this time of year, a lot of tiny plants bloom quickly before the grasses grow and shade them out and hide them from their pollinators.  The dainty Hermannia depressa aptly named Dolls Rose are one of my favourites. 

Another shrublet blooming with masses of delicate bright cerise flowers is the Sutera aurantiaca which is at its best when the grasses are short.

A person needs to visit the grassland daily to keep up with all the wonderful plants and interactions in nature.

This Moraea thompsonii only appears above ground in the afternoon to attract its pollinators and lasts just that afternoon.  If you don’t visit the grassland at the right time, you will miss this beautiful flower.  Jeff and I have seen them popping up twice in the last few weeks.

We were so excited to see this Albuca for the first time in the grassland.  We think it is A. setosa.  I love how, from the angle Jeff took the picture, the bottom two flowers look like bees, or is just my imagination?

The wind blew a multitude of Acacia robusta seed pods into the grassland which were burnt.  This triggers the seeds to germinate.  Already there are Acacia seedlings coming up everywhere.  I foresee that this is going to be one of our weeding problems this season, as if I allow all the trees to grow, they will shade out the grasses and ruin the grassland.  I am happy with the trees around the edges only.

We have cut back the bulrushes at the dam in the hopes that they sprout quickly.  The quicker they reach over a meter the quicker the Southern Red Bishops change to their beautiful colour and start to breed at the dam.  I can’t wait.

The Red-Coot visited the dam, and I was hoping it would be to his liking and he would stay and breed.  Bad Luck!  He left the next day, but I am hopeful that he will be back. 

The Lapwings are getting cheekier and cheekier and sectioning the farm off into breeding territories.

Woe betides any crow or other bird of prey that comes nearby, they get mobbed and chased away.  I haven’t found any nests yet, but I am sure they are there.

The Egyptian Geese have ensconced themselves on top of the old Hamerkop Nest and laid their eggs there.  I only hope that when the eggs hatch the babies bounce and don’t damage themselves as the nest is really high up in the tree.

We often hear the wonderful call of the Black-headed Oriole in the garden but seldom see him.  The best time to spot him is when the trees are leafless – Ronald managed to get this picture of him – exciting. 

The other bird much more visible now is the Cape Robinchat.  I love this cheeky character who struts his stuff with attitude.

This is just a sample of birds that are feasting in the Schotia brachypetala.

The bees and other insects are also having a feast on the pollen and nectar provided by the many plants in flower at this time of year.  I wonder how this bee is still flying and looking for more pollen with his fully loaded pollen sacs.

Podocarpus henkelli

Finally, I thought I would share this picture of a beautiful avenue of Podocarpus henkelli I saw in Midrand.

I was astounded at how attractive the entrance to this development was.

Hope to share the beauty of the plants in the nursery with you when you visit at this floriferous time of the year.


Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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