Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - December 2023

Posted On: Friday, December 1, 2023

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Unbelievable! I am writing the last newsletter for 2023, this year has flown by.  They do say time flies when you are having fun…and I do have bucket loads of fun doing what I love!  I am blessed with a constant and consuming interest, even though I have just celebrated my 74th birthday -  with my staff who are a total joy to me.

Jonathan and some of my ladies worked so hard to help make the day a success.  What shocked me is that we had to cater for 100 people – it is a big responsibility to care for each and every one.  If you would like to see the happy day we had please click on video link.

I would like to wish you -


We are open every day from 8h00 to 16h30
Except for December 25th and 26th and 1st January 2024


As we do each year, we decorate a Christmas tree for the birds which is loaded with Christmas themed bird feeders and lots of delicious healthy treats for the birds. 

Adrian and the chaps in the nursery have outdone themselves and the display garden around the tree is beautiful.

The birds are also happy and are visiting the tree in large numbers and variety.


As usual at this time of year we lay out a little trail to teach children about an aspect of ecology.

This year it will be all about lizards and skinks.  The children will collect stickers at various stations where they learn about these fascinating creatures and how to protect them.

When they are done, they will come back to reception to collect their Christmas Gift.  

The children love these activities, and we look forward to seeing them and teaching them about the environment.

This activity will be held from 13th December 2023 to 21st January 2024.  No booking required.  There is no cost but I would really appreciate it If you would make a contribution of non-perishable food towards our food parcel drive.


The plants have recovered very well from the hailstorm we had although it wasn’t much fun tipping it off the shade house.  I am just grateful that we were not subjected to the hailstorms that have had golf ball sized hail.

The real downside is that the flowers were knocked off the trees – like the flowers of the Calodendrum capensis (Cape Chestnut).  This means we are not going to be able to harvest many seeds this year.

We have been very busy this season which translates into us working very hard to replenish the plants that we have sold.  This needs to be done quickly as the plants take time to grow before they are once again ready for sale.

Mike is busy curating and growing rare and unusual plants.  We are gradually beginning to have a few for sale but this is a slow process and may take another year or two before we are able to offer these beautiful and, in some cases, curious plants to add to the already large number of species we offer for sale.


My staff definitely know how to make me happy.  They collected money and bought 132 cans of baked beans for my birthday present. 

We also had a scout group visit us to earn a badge.  I asked for a donation to our food parcels and was thrilled at the generosity shown by them to help people in need.

Once again, I express my deep gratitude to the people who have been donating money towards this cause.  I am truly grateful for your generous support which enables us to continue with this assistance to those in need of supplementing their food.  

Jeffrey has been in touch with community leaders and so we are assured that the food parcels go to the people in genuine need.

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


Jeffrey and I get so much pleasure on our daily jaunts to the grassland because of the many tiny baby Lapwings.  There are also cute babies of the Thick Knees.  Join us for a bird walk and enjoy a morning out in the veld with all its surprises.

Date: Saturday 9th December with Lance Robinson

Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Date: Saturday 20th January with Chris Hines

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


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

We will share tips and tricks to help keep your garden moist and thriving in these dry times.

Date: Wednesday 6th December 2023 at 10h30
Topic: Conserving water in the garden

Date: Wednesday 3rd January 2024 at 10h30 
Topic: Gardening questions and answers.
Bring your indigenous gardening questions and we’ll learn from each others experiences and challenges

Coffee Morning Cost: R25.00 per person towards our food parcel drive and includes a cup of coffee.  No booking required (a donation of nonperishable food for our food parcel drive would be greatly appreciated.)


Lindsay's final course this year is Practical Gardener Training        
Date: 1st December - 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.

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


The Dyer gallery was opened in memory of Robert Allen Dyer a formidable botanist.  His rare book collection and correspondence with many botanists and plant specialist were donated by the Dyer family to start the gallery.

There is also a collection of art from most of the famous botanical artists which is the private collection of Allan Tait.  

The aim of the gallery is the preservation of our botanical heritage.

The gallery, located at 297 Baardroad Raslouw Centurion, is presently only open by prior arrangement.  Contact Allen on whatsapp 0827083054 or email at [email protected]

If you know anyone who would like to be part of this project please contact Alan.


Yes, we are open during the holiday season.

If you are still working and busy during December and January, we are open as well and will still be taking orders and delivering as normal.  The only days we are closed are the 25th and 26th December 2023 and the 1st of January, 2024.

Luckily the terrible hailstorms missed us, and the plants are looking happy and healthy so you will be able to create beautiful gardens for your clients with Random Harvest’s plants.

Speak to Sarie on 082 553 0791 or Jonathan on 076 830 5242

Jonathan is willing to come to site if you need assistance on choices of indigenous plants for your discerning clients.


The retail section of the nursery is looking good with a huge variety of plants for you to choose from in order to create your own indigenous haven in your garden.  With its attendant wildlife of birds, butterflies and insects you will have created your own mini nature reserve to enjoy in your private space.

In this throw away, wasteful world we live in, what better gift could you give a loved one but an indigenous plant to give them pleasure for years to come each time they walk in their gardens.

Remember if you need help on choices of plants and what to plant where, there is always someone on hand here, to help with suggestions and show you the plants.

We also have a delivery service and if you need help with planting, we will be able to help you with this as well.


Johannesburg farm accommodation at its best. 

Our guest farm offers an idyllic holiday retreat. Enjoy warm hospitality, hearty country breakfasts and overnight accommodation in fully equipped cottages that have a private indigenous garden and a home away from home feel. This secure working farm is protected by professionally trained security personnel to give our guests peace of mind to roam around the farm.  

This type of getaway is particularly popular with families. There’s milking to watch, walks in nature and bird watching (we have 173 birds on our bird list which is available from the office).  Children are entertained and educated just by taking them through our daily nursery activities.

Sample mother-nature at her best. 

You can choose between a self-catered farm stay in private self-contained cottages or catered accommodation in a traditional farmhouse with delicious farm-fresh breakfasts and dinners on request.


The tea garden is a unique venue nestled under huge Acacias where you can relax to the sound of birds and water, whilst enjoying a tasty meal freshly prepared in our kitchen. 

All the baking is done in our kitchen as well.  This assures that everything is lovingly prepared from the best ingredients available.

Think of celebrating with family or business associates with a generous High Tea or Buffet breakfast in a beautiful, serene location.

You can order a picnic prepared in our kitchen and relax and enjoy it in the beautiful indigenous garden.

The kitchen staff are happy to serve other meals in the garden as well.


To add Christmas cheer to your home and offer Christmas treats for the birds we have a range of beaded Christmas decorations and also Christmas bird feeders that can be used as decorations and keep the birds happy as well.

It is peak breeding season so the birds will appreciate your feeding station.  These are some of the good quality healthy foods you can offer your birds.  In turn they will give you hours of pleasure watching them.  See below the garden tip about the best way to feed birds in the garden.

We also have a range of uniquely Random Harvest Gifts in the shop for family and friends.

Start a forest - plant an indigenous tree – kit with everything you need to grow a tree – a booklet on trees, a pot and soil, seed and instructions on how to plant a tree.

Attract Butterflies to your garden – kit includes a booklet on butterflies and butterfly gardening, a pot and soil, butterfly friendly plant seed and planting instructions as well as seed for a butterfly host plant.

Nature Explorers kit – to teach the children about the wonderful natural world that can be explored in their own garden space.

We also have a few Random Harvest publications in the shop.


The Shot Hole borer beetle (PSHB is still working its devastation on trees in our city and continues to be a pest that requires attention. Losing trees in urban areas will severely impact the quality of its human and wildlife residents. 

The indiscriminate use of toxic systemic treatments has a very negative impact on the environment especially pollinators which suffer due to secondary poisoning. 

We offer a bio friendly organic solution that targets the actual fungus spread by the beetle in the tree. We are able to treat large trees using specialized equipment. 

The picture shows the start of the die back of a tree with the dead twigs above the crown.

Please contact us for an onsite quote to treat and save any infected trees. 

Contact Jonathan on [email protected] or call 076 83 05242.  He will help with identification and treatment of RSHB infestation.


Boophone disticha - Fan-leaved Boophane (E); Gifbol (A)
Very, hardy, deciduous plant with a huge bulb.  The papery grey-brown bulb scales contrast beautifully with the leaves. The grey leaves are held in a twisted fan shape and are most attractive.  The large deep pink to red flower heads appear in early spring before the leaves.  The flowers provide valuable nectar and pollen for small insects. Fire induces this plant to flower. Once the flowers have been pollinated, each flower stalk elongates and carries the seed on the end to form a tumbleweed.  Plant in full sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil and leave the bulb partially exposed.  It makes a striking container plant and is a lovely addition to a grass or meadow garden.  

Mimusops zeyheri - Moepel (E); Moepel (A)
This fairly hardy, evergreen, decorative, large tree has a spreading, densely rounded crown and deeply grooved dark brown to grey bark.  Young leaves are rust-coloured and have a velvety under-surface.  They then mature to leathery and glossy dark green above and pale green below. Sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers are borne in clusters in leaf axils from Oct. to Feb.  The shiny yellow-orange fruit has a brittle skin and orangey-yellow flesh that is tasty and high in vitamin C. The fruit attracts many birds and is an important butterfly host plant.  Grow in sun, semi-shade or shade.     
Size: 3 to 11m

Dianthus mooiensis - Frilly Dianthus (E); Wilde-angelier (A)
This hardy, drought resistant perennial with beautiful frilly white to deep pink flowers has a straggling growth habit and is best planted with grasses or other plants to support it.  It is an important component of the grasslands and is extensively used for medicinal purposes.  It requires full sun conditions.  Size up to 30cm

Aloe suprafoliata - Book Aloe (E); Boekaalwyn (A)
A hardy, solitary, stemless Aloe with a slightly spiralled twist.  It has bluish-green, red tipped, succulent leaves.  The young leaves are two-ranked (hence the common name) and only form rosettes when mature.  Unbranched flowering stalks bear pinkish red, cylindrical flowers from May to July.  This beautiful species needs to be planted in full sun, in well-drained soil, and also makes an excellent container plant.          Size: 50 to 60cm 

Dicliptera eenii - Purple Dicliptera (E)
Hardy, sprawling, evergreen small shrub with lovely dark pink to violet ribbon-like flowers which are produced in profusion during the winter months, but a few flowers are to be found on the bush year-round. With its dark green diminutive leaves and colourful flowers this shrublet will give a wonderful texture to any planting.  Members of this genus are host plants to Mother-of Pearl Butterflies.  Suitable for shady spots in the garden, although it will perform as a tighter knit cover in full sun.                  Size: 30 to 50cm


Kiggelaria africana - Wild Peach (E); Wildeperske (A)
Very hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, fast-growing, medium- to large-sized tree which has very variable leaves.  Small, greenish-yellow flowers are borne from Aug. to Jan. The sexes are on separate trees, with solitary, larger, pendulous female flowers and smaller male flowers in clusters.  The female flowers are followed by decorative grey-green capsules that open into star-shaped cases to display shiny, black seeds covered with a bright orange-red aril.  It is the host plant to the Garden Acraea butterfly.  A must for a butterfly garden.  Plant in sun or semi-shade.    Size: 4 to 13m     S.A. No. 494

Sclerochiton odoratissimus - White Lips (E); Witlippe (A) 
Hardy, evergreen, small- to medium-sized shrub with attractive, glossy, small, dark-green leaves.  In late summer and autumn, it bears masses of wonderfully fragrant, pretty white flowers that are streaked with red or purple lines.  The flowers are like little hands facing the sun.  It is a sight to behold when in flower, especially with all the pollinating insects that visit the flowers.  Trim it into an attractive formal hedge, use in a mixed shrubbery or plant in a container. It is fairly drought-tolerant but can also be planted in damp, sunny or semi-shade spots in the garden. Size: .75 to 1.5m SA No. 681.7

Combretum bracteosum – Hiccup Nut (E); Hikklimop (A)
This fairly hardy, large, deciduous scrambler has unusual, dull olive-green leaves, and is a particularly attractive foliage plant.  It bears gorgeous, big heads of red flowers from Sept. to Dec. Unusually for a Combretum, it has nuts and not 4-winged seeds.  It is a host plant to the Striped Policeman butterfly and a few moth species. Attracts many birds to the garden, especially for nesting opportunities.  The Hiccup Nut is a good garden subject that can be used for covering banks or walls. Makes a wonderful container plant.  Prune the long climbing stems to encourage it to make a dense round bush.  Grows in semi-shade, in well-drained soil.       Size: Climbs up to 8m      S.A. No. 532.2


Feeding Birds can be fun! Feeding birds in the garden will attract birds and create hours of pleasure just watching the of variety of birds that use the feeding station.  It will also provide opportunities to see birds that are normally quite cryptic.

Birds that will visit a feeding station can be split into seedeaters, insect eaters, and fruit eaters which are easy to cater for.  

Place the feeding station close to a tree or dense bush where birds can rush to for safety when they feel startled or threatened.

If you are a cat lover, place a small tinkling bell on a collar to warn the birds of the approach of a cat giving them the opportunity to fly to safety, otherwise, they may become a snack for your cat, which I am sure is not the intention when feeding birds.

It is vital that birds are fed correctly.  The wrong types of food can cause health problems and even lead to the death of some birds. 

There are many excellent bird feeding products in the marketplace.  In our shop we stock Elaines Birding and Wildlife products and a few homemade treats, which have been properly researched and are good for the birds.  This will ensure that your intention of supporting the bird population in your area is done in a healthy and responsible manner.


•    Seed bells for seed eaters
•    Pure bird seed for small feeders – this is preferable to seed mixed with maize as the germ meal in the maize can encourage bees when pollen is short, and this is detrimental to the health of the hive.
•    Suet balls - all types of birds will relish this.  You can get bonemeal from your local butcher which he collects from his meat saw.  Portion it off into amounts that will be eaten daily and freeze them.  Add 1 portion per day but if any is left it must be cleaned out daily.  
•    Dried meal worms for insect eaters
•    Fruit for fruit eating birds
•    Peanuts for larger seed eating birds. 
•    Nectar feeder - birds will use this as an energy source.   
•    Make your own nectar by mixing 10 teaspoons sugar to 250ml (1 cup of water) (Do not add honey as it ferments and can go mouldy) 
•    Peanut butter mixed with some bird seed and smeared on a piece of wood or pressed into the spaces of a pinecone.
•    Shallow water with sloping sides such as a grindstone to complete their needs.  

You can also place rocks, half submerged in a bird bath for water to be more accessible, but make sure the stones / rocks are cleaned regularly.    


•    Refined foods like bread and cooked rice which can be deadly to some species.  
•    Bacon fat, which is too salty. 
•    Salted nuts for humans, also too salty.
•    Honey is a complex sugar which birds cannot digest properly.
•    Potato chips refined and too salty.
•    Dog food, which is not formulated for birds.
•    Old and mouldy bird seed. And raw meat.
•    Bonemeal fertilizer

Always remember good quality food will ensure the birds in your garden are healthy.


Pigeons and doves have widely splayed toes, which makes it better for walking as they spend much of their time foraging on the ground. This makes it more difficult for them to perch on the seed bells, or bird feeders that have small, thin perches, but they will be able to forage for the seeds that drop to the ground.

Avoid flat feeding trays which will encourage the alien feral pigeon as they can stand flat-footed in the tray and gorge on the seeds.  These trays also encourage the doves to over feed which is detrimental to their health.


Thank goodness, after the bit of rain we have had, the grassland is looking a lot better.

The Lapwings all have babies.  Our job is to keep the crows away from them.  My staff have been dedicated to chasing them, so we have quite a few babies.  It is so much easier to see them when the grass is this short.

We were excited to see these termite mound mushrooms popping out of the new termite nest.  I remember how excited I was to see the start of the first termite mound in the grassland.

The termites seem to have left the old mound and started this new one.  With bits and pieces of the old mound breaking off you can see how hard they work.  The intricate tunnels they create amaze me.

There are some flowers beginning to show.  My favourite at this time while the grasses are still short is the tiny Hypoxis argentea they are dotting the grassland in their hundreds.

The Wild Sweetpea (Vigna vexillata) never lets me down and no matter how dry it is this plant always manages some flowers.

After the rain the Acacia karroo (Sweet Thorn) burst forth with their golden flowers, as they do every time it rains 25mm or more in summer.  Their sweet perfume has been wafting over the grassland.

You have probably realised I count the seasons by the Paradise Flycatcher, which I love. They are very busy breeding, and the garden is filled with their happy calls.  There is always a smile on my face when I hear them.

The African Olive Pigeon is back on the farm.  We haven’t seen him for a while so this was exciting.

The huge Cabbage Tree Moths are out now.  They are as big as the palm of a mans hand.  The colour differences in them are amazing.  I have never seen this dark brown before.

The butterflies are sipping nectar from the flowers which are starting to bloom in abundance.

The seeds on the cycad cones are ripe.  They are impressive and carry a multitude of bright red seed.  The seeds are difficult to clean in preparation for planting so maybe we can leave them on the floor and let the Bulbuls clean the fleshy area off them as the seeds are too big to swallow.

To my surprise this deep red Ammocharis coranica (Karoo Lily) bloomed.  Most of them are pink so this is really interesting.

The Dieramas (Angels Fishing Rod) are blooming with their beautiful drooping spikes of flowers.  The common name is very apt.  They make wonderful cut flowers and will dry in a vase and thus last for months.

The Maroela (Sclerocarya birrea) we planted is flowering for the first time.  Hopefully we have a male and female and will be able to harvest the delicious fruit.  We can eat the fruit and keep the seed to plant. 

Jeffrey helped a customer on a huge farm with their garden.  She is delighted with her indigenous garden.  This has encouraged her to look at the veld with different eyes and, on her wanderings on the farm, found this vlei full of flowers she had not seen before.  Much to Jeffrey’s and my delight she is set on preserving this area.  In the meantime, she has found other areas to protect as well.

Ronald took a video of Tilapia in our pond eating the fallen flowers of the Acacia.  This is interesting and something I never noticed before.

All the very best for the Holiday Season.  Hope to see you soon at Random Harvest.



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email [email protected]

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