Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2024

Posted On: Friday, March 1, 2024

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

We live in a stunningly beautiful world.  Take this view I saw when looking out of my kitchen window the other night.  I just had to jump into my golf car and sit out in the darkening day to enjoy and wonder at how lucky I am to live in the countryside where this type of view can be enjoyed. 

Once it was dark and, on my way, back to my cottage, I was greeted with this beautiful scene of the moon above the Acacia sieberiana in the garden.


We were lucky enough to have two professors from Germany, Wolfram Kircher and Cassian Schmidt who, together with Landscape Architect Bettina Jaugstetter, have radical new ideas about planting with perennials.  

They were so generous with their ideas that we are going to start experimental planting beds using their principles and our indigenous plants to create gardens which are both beautiful and biodiverse.   I will keep you updated and when they are settled, I hope they will be a source of inspiration for you.

I loved spending time with them, especially as they were totally enamoured with the grassland which is so special to Jeff and me.

The cows’ paddocks were overgrazed and looking sad, so we sprayed PANAF products and micro-organisms onto the grass.  The response was bordering on the miraculous.  There has been so much grass for the cows, and they are spending time contentedly resting, chewing the cud and looking fat and happy.

We are also very busy cutting grass and baling it to feed the cows in winter.

Public Holidays we are Open on Human Rights Day 21st March, Family Day 1st April.
We are closed on Good Friday 29th March.


Jeffrey and David are spending Sunday mornings visiting people in the informal settlements around us to identify people who are truly in need.  The need out there is overwhelming, so it is imperative that they do this exercise to make sure the correct people are getting assistance.  

We are also trying to start some small micro businesses for some amazing people who we think, with our support, will be able to make them sustainable.   We are going to do this by giving them small loans to get started and once the business is up and running to make small repayments which in turn will allow us to help others.

We are also trying to help rebuild where shacks have burnt down, which happens frequently.  We have installed one for an old man whose shack was tiny and falling apart.   We are also trying to assist the social workers who are trying to organise a pension for him as he is destitute.

Please could I continue relying on your generous donations so we can keep doing this worthwhile work.  I would like to remind you that every cent you donate is being used for food and essential items nothing else.  All the logistics and administration is covered by Random Harvest.

If you could help these are our banking details.

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



As is traditional we have an Easter Eco Treasure Hunt for the children who visit Random Harvest.  We use this opportunity to teach them about nature and indigenous plants.

The theme this year is all about trees.  They will go on the trail and then come back and plant their own little tree into a pot to take home.

This event will run from 9th March to the 14th April.  There is no charge for this event.


Was my face red?? I misidentified the Cuckoo in last month’s Newsletter.  It was a Levaillents Cuckoo not Jacobin.  I am definitely going to run the identification of new birds past Lance or Chris before I commit myself and confuse both myself and you.  Sorry about that.

One of our young indigenous enthusiasts went on a bird walk and enjoyed it so much that he celebrated his birthday with his friends by taking them on a bird walk with Jeffrey and Ronald.  They were fascinated by the owls which posed beautifully for them.

As Lance cannot make the 9th March, Chris will be leading the walk in his place.

Date: 9th March with Chris Hines
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Date: 6th April with Lance Robinson.
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Cost: R185.00 per person, this includes a delicious breakfast buffet

Booking is essential - please contact Ronald on [email protected] or Tel. No. 082-553-0598


Date: Wednesday 6th March at 10h30    
Topic: A bird walk (stroll) in the garden with Jeffrey Mapila

Bird walk in the garden with Jeffrey before the migrants leave.  Jeff can also answer your questions along the way.

Date: Wednesday 3rd April at 10h30    
Topic: Honey and Honey Bees

Rory from Bees-R-Us will give an interesting new perspective on Honey and Honeybees and the processes of how they make honey and the importance of honey in the health of the hive.

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 restarts her courses in February.  
Dates: Friday 15th March 2024

This practical course is designed for new gardeners and domestic gardeners or you 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.

Date: Saturday, 16 March 2024. Designing and Planting your Garden

Lindsay presents the comprehensive workshop – Designing & Planting your Garden.  This workshop demonstrates the logical process for designing any outside space, including the creative use of colour, texture, hard surfaces and, of course, indigenous plants to create a sustainable garden that will become a haven for wildlife.  

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


I thought I would share this picture of the setup in the garden of a picnic for a function.  It is a beautiful spot and the food bountiful.  The function went so well that our visitors stayed in the garden until sunset.  With the attentive service of my staff a good time was had by all.

If you have a nature-based function in mind, we can offer a picnic in the garden with a bird or tree walk on the farm led by Jeffrey.  This is interesting as Jeffrey has a vast knowledge of both the plants and the birds on the farm which he is happy to share.

This would be for a minimum of 5 people at a time.

For more information contact Ronald on [email protected] or call 066 587 3077

I thought I would let you know that we now keep Almond milk and gluten free bread for those who are on a special diet.


We are constructing a display of thorny plants to create an impenetrable hedge on the perimeter of your property.  This is not only good for security but is a magnet for birds and other wildlife.  See our gardening tip on how to create this interesting planting in your garden.

Pensioners Day every Wednesday

For our senior citizens who enjoy an outing Random Harvest is a perfect place to be spoiled by our helpful staff.  There is ease of access and the tea garden s a beautiful setting where you relax and enjoy Tea and Scones for the pensioners price of R60.00.  You may even be lucky enough to enjoy a visit from a friendly Robinchat.

Take a stroll around the nursery and buy your plants which attract a 10% discount for pensioners.


Grass Seed we have Gauteng Short Grass seed in stock.  When you plant your seed water it with exel gel which is a water retention gel that will ensure that your delicate seedlings have enough water to keep them moist when they are germinating.  This saves water but does not mean you never have to water them again – it just increases the times you have between watering.

Professor Kircher has published a book on ‘How to build a natural pool’.   I have been in touch with the publishers, and they are happy to send copies to South Africa.  The price will be R950.00.  If you would like a copy of this detailed book, please pre-book.  A deposit of R600.00 is payable and then will order them in bulk.  Contact [email protected] to place your order

To keep the water in your ponds healthy and clean we recommend an addition of Super EM which has all the microorganisms in it to keep your water healthy.

Add Biobags which are a simple, inexpensive bio filter system.  These bags create habitat for the microorganisms that keep the water clean.  You will need 1 bag per square meter of wall space (not surface area).  Simply ensure that your pump pulls the water through the biobag and thus past the microorganisms that keep the water clean.


I wanted to share with you how much Random Harvest has grown.  My nephew, Robert, who does waterproofing and builds natural pools, has taken these drone pictures to show just how much we have actually expanded.  I am eternally grateful to have been able to do these improvements in these trying times.

As we have improved the organisation of the nursery, we are now able to supply plants in larger numbers. This enables us to service the landscaping industry better.

Please remember that we have an plant availability list, which is regularly updated, on our website.  


We invite you to come and experience the essence of farm living.  Stepping back from indoor activities the lush gardens and natural open spaces allow one to interact with nature and experience the peace and quiet that city life lacks. 

Homemade fresh food and friendly faces all set in an oasis of plant and bird life as well as farm animals creates the perfect setting for creating lasting memories. Home prepared meals can be delivered from our tea garden alternatively third-party food delivery services are also an option, please liase with security to direct the delivery staff to your cottage.

Random Harvest offers guests an uninterrupted solar powered electricity supply as well as generator backup. No need to stress about load shedding or power outages, you can remain focused on doing what needs to be done.  All units have functional Wi-Fi as well as hot water, kitchen facilities etc. regardless of the grid situation. Have peace of mind that your schedule will not be interrupted due to unforeseen power interruptions and your activities can continue, be it online based working, merely enjoying a movie or taking a hot shower after a long day.


As the retail display and gardening tip are about plants for an impenetrable hedge I thought I would introduce some of the plants that can be used.

Acacia ataxacantha - Flamepod Thorn
Hardy, deciduous Acacia that can grow as a scrambling shrub or medium sized tree with many hooked prickles. It is drought resistant and fairly fast-growing. The fine leaves are either bright green or blue green and are densely hairy.  It bears spikes of creamy flowers from Nov. to Feb.  These are followed by attractive, flattened deep red to maroon pods.  The Satyr Charaxes butterfly uses it as a host plant.  This tree is ideal to plant as a security hedge, as its tangled thorny branches will climb through other plants and create an impenetrable barrier. It requires well drained soil and full sun, but can tolerate light, dappled shade to semi-shade.

Acacia hebeclada - Candle Pod Acacia
Hardy, small to medium-sized, spreading, deciduous tree or large shrub with paired, sharp spines. The dark brown to grey bark is fissured and flaking.  Birds, such as the Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, enjoy probing under the bark for insects.  The blue-green leaves are hairy and catch the sun. Mostly creamy-white, but sometimes pale-yellow, large, round, scented puffball flowers, are borne in large attractive clusters at the nodes of the leaves.  They adorn the tree from Jul. to Sept. and offer up a bounty of pollen and nectar to the numerous small pollinating insects and insectivorous birds that visit them.  As the shoots age their colour changes, giving the crown a lovely, mottled look. The large, distinctive pods stand upright and persist on the plant for a few seasons, hence the common name ‘Candle Thorn’.   An ideal addition to a security hedge because of its height and ferocious thorns.  It is often referred to as ‘The House of the Lion’ as it provides shady shelter for lions in the hot dry areas where this tree occurs.

Acacia mellifera - Black Thorn
Very drought resistant, very hardy, thickset, deciduous Acacia with vicious hook thorns.  The bark is purplish black on the young stems and turns grey with age. The leaflets are blue-green, round and quite large for an Acacia.  It blooms profusely from Sept. to Nov. with scented, white puffball flowers that are especially fragrant at night.  These are followed by small beige pods that are nutritious. It makes a good screen and security fence when planted as a thicket.  The pollen rich flowers make this an excellent 'bee tree’.  Plant in full sun to semi-shade.  It thrives in both well-drained and clayey soils.

Gymnosporia harveyana - Black Forest Spike-thorn
Hardy, evergreen, spiny shrub that is densely leafy and has long, slender, straight spines.  The beautiful, glossy, dark-green foliage is a distinctive feature of this plant.  From Oct. to May it bears clusters of small, white flowers that attract insects.  These are followed by white berries on slender stalks. From Nov. to Jun. the berries turn ruby-red and adorn the tree. When these split, birds are attracted to the food source.  As it is either in flower or fruit all year round it is a great addition to a wildlife garden.  It has many uses – it can be pruned to form a small tree, trimmed into a formal hedge, left as an informal hedge or planted in a security barrier.  This stunning plant grows in deep or filtered shade.  Plant in compost-rich, well-drained soil and give it moderate water.

Dovyalis longispina - Natal Apricot
Hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree with glossy, dark-green, roundish, shiny leaves. The new growth is red.  The long, thin spines make this an ideal plant for a security hedge, but it is also an attractive garden plant.  The small whitish-yellow flowers appear in clusters from Aug. to Oct.  Male and female flowers are on separate plants, therefore only female plants will bear fruit.  The leaves drop during flowering, but new leaves re-appear immediately.  

The delicious, edible fruit is a beautiful pale red with white spots (they look a lot like strawberries).  Attracts birds to the garden.  Plant in full sun or semi-shade in sandy or well-drained soil.

Gymnosporia buxifolia [=Maytenus heterophylla] - Common Spikethorn
This very hardy, semi-deciduous, drought resistant, large shrub or small to medium-sized tree is armed with long straight spines.  Blooms profusely with tiny, scented white flowers that cover the branches from Aug. to Mar. The fruit and flowers attract birds and pollinating insects to the garden. A good addition to an ‘eco-friendly’ security fence,  Plant in full sun or semi-shade in an informal hedge or in bush clumps.

Asparagus falcatus - Large Forest Asparagus
Fairly hardy, evergreen, tall, robust climber with glossy, dark-green, sickle-shaped leaves and short, hooked thorns on pale-grey stems.  The small, sweetly scented, white flowers are carried in a long thin spray and are borne from Sept. to Dec.  These are followed by red berries in winter.   The flower nectar attracts Sunbirds and tiny insects to the garden, and the berries attract fruit-eating birds.  Plant in semi-shade or shade.


Asparagus laricinus - Bushveld Asparagus
Very hardy, evergreen, shrubby Asparagus with fine, feathery foliage and silvery, zigzag branchlets.  It has a myriad of tiny, white, nectar-rich flowers in spring and summer that are fragrant and attract insects and birds.   It then bears attractive red and black berries that also attract birds to the garden It is a very useful plant for a security hedge as it is extremely spiny. It is fire-resistant and if the stems burn it shoots quickly from the base. It grows in sun, semi-shade or shade, and in all types of soil except waterlogged soils.

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.

Carissa edulis – Climbing numnum
This hardy much-branched, evergreen, fast growing shrub or climber has glossy, leathery leaves, which are sometimes hairy and have red growing tips.  The hard, rigid spines are almost always single.  Masses of beautiful, white flowers tinged with pink appear from Sept. to Dec., are followed by edible fruit that turn purplish-black when ripe, and because it is so sweet and juicy, makes a good jam or jelly.  The fruits attract birds to the garden. It makes a good hedging plant.  It needs to be controlled in a smaller garden but can be allowed to grow wild if you have the space where it will scramble through the trees.  Can be grown in semi-shade but prefers full sun and flowers more profusely in the sun. Size: 1 to 3m     S.A. No. 640.4

Euphorbia griseola 
Hardy, evergreen, much-branched spiny succulent shrub.  It has 4-angled, thin, greenish yellow branchlets with dark-brown spines running along the ridges.  It bears small, bright yellow flowers, also along the ridges with the spines from Sept. to Nov.  The flowers attract tiny pollinating insects.  It requires well-drained soil.  Plant in sun or very light dappled shade.


Top tips to create a Living Security Fence 

Security is an issue to all homeowners.  Create an additional, living barrier that will soften the hard appearance of manmade security barriers, such as palisade fencing; prison-like electric fencing; razor wire and stark; high walls. This can be achieved by planting a living ‘Eco-fence’ of indigenous thorny plants that will beautify and soften our surroundings, create habitat for wildlife and simultaneously enhance our security.  

Many indigenous plants have evolved the sharp thorns as a defence against browsing animals and we can use this same strategy against unwanted intruders (both human and animal).  The creation of an environmentally friendly; low maintenance; security hedge will attract birds and all manner of other wildlife; thus, creating a mini nature reserve.

Thorny indigenous plants are hardy by nature; and will grow well when planted close together (1 meter apart) to form a hedge.  


•    Select plants that bloom and fruit at different times of the year to provide food for birds, bees and other wildlife.
•    Smaller gardens need smaller species. They will still need to be trimmed but it is easier to keep them to a smaller size.
•    Select shrubby species as well as climbing or bushy plants such as a spiny Asparagus species that will help knit the security hedge together making it more impenetrable.


•    Dig the holes for the woody species 1 meter apart.  Move 50cm from the 1st hole and then you can dig smaller holes for the intertwining species.
•    One meter In front of the hedge you could plant low flowering plants such as spiny Barleria for added security and to add to the beauty as well as encouraging wildlife.
•    Mix the soil you have removed with compost and add an organic slow-release fertiliser.  Backfill the hole and water well.  Water 2 or 3 times to ensure that the soil has settled and then plant.  
•    Water regularly.
•    Trim the tops once or twice a year to keep them at the height you need as well as encouraging them to bush out and become even denser and thornier.
•    For a formal garden select a single species of plant with spines such as Lemon Thorn (Cassinopsis ilicifolia) or Large num-num (Carissa macrocarpa) to trim into a formal hedge.  

WILDLIFE (Biodiversity)

•    Use a good mix of plants to provide food all year round, and a variety of ideal nesting sites for small birds; where the spines provide anchorage for the nest and keep out unwanted predators.

•    A single species barrier would not support as diverse a range of biodiversity, but it is still a very effective barrier.

Check our website for a list of indigenous thorny plants that can be used to create an almost impenetrable Living Security Fence.


We have two, cute new babies on the farm.  

Jeff and I were so excited when we found this chameleon on the fence.  It is seldom we see them so you can imagine how happy we were.  

I hated leaving him there in the open where someone could prey on him, so we moved him into the windbreak.  I didn’t realise how fast they move as he scuttled off into the trees.

Ronald found this caterpillar almost ready to pupate.  It will morph into a beautiful Oleander Hawk Moth.

An interesting and exciting creature which we have only seen once before.

Another interesting find was this nest of Dauber Bees which are mostly solitary but occasionally nest communally although each bee has its own nest.  We found this nest in an Acacia luederitzii.

We saw the Brown-hooded Kingfisher down at the dam which was quite unusual as he is insectivorous and not wetland related.  He is normally seen in the garden where we are treated to regular beautiful calls.

The Owls are still in the garden although we haven’t seen any babies.  I love waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of these wonderful hooting calls.  Even the harsher calls of the Barn Owl are a treat.

One of my favourite things to observe in nature is the slow breaking down of wood.

The variety of fungal fruiting bodies is endlessly fascinating especially as you think of the importance of fungus in nature.  

I also love watching the insect activity which helps with these processes.  The amount of food they provide for birds, lizards, frogs and a whole host of other wildlife is immensely important.

When I heard this was to be an ‘El Nino’ dry season I was worried about baling enough hay to see the cows through winter.  Although it hasn’t been a great year for rain there has been enough for the grasses to grow prolifically, and we are busy baling.

I took a drive down to the dam at sunrise just after the rain.  I was blown away at how beautiful it was with the droplets glistening like diamonds on the grasses.  How lucky am I to be able to get out of bed and straight out to enjoy the beauty and diversity of nature on my doorstep.  This picture depicts perfectly why the grasslands are so close to my heart.

When you visit we are happy to share this beauty with you.


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