Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - April 2024

Posted On: Monday, April 1, 2024

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I can’t believe that the autumn equinox has come and gone, and we are still so boiling hot.  I feel for my staff who are out in the heat doing manual labour.  

It has been so bad that even Abby who loves to run next to the Golf cart when we visit the grassland, has opted for riding in the golf cart rather than facing the extreme heat.  I hope El Nino has gone by next season so we can go back to enjoying the wonderful Highveld weather and have lots of rain to keep the plants happy and the dam full.

I was mortified this season as someone called the dam a ‘pond’.  I don’t blame them as the only water left is the one in the cemented section of the dam which is small compared to when we have a wonderful rainy season, and the dam increases at least 10-fold.

I am happy we grow only tough, resilient indigenous plants that are able to withstand these vagaries of weather and still flourish.


I thought I would share with you just how far Jeffrey, David and I have come.  These pictures of them were taken exactly 10 years apart.  Time flies and we all change – I hope for the better.

It has taken us so long to sort out the filter on our sewage water cleaning as I have had problems with leakage.  We used a new product and are now hoping all our problems are solved and the water quality will improve dramatically.

The heating system on our cutting house is working well.  This is a picture of Jonathan training the staff on how to use it.

The making of the fires is crucial to keep the temperature correct.

We have a new driver, Thembela, who loves a clean and sparkling vehicle.  It is such a pleasure to see how clean and good the bakkies are looking,,, even although Thembela is very conservative with his water usage.

I am grateful we grow resilient indigenous plants and our main task has been watering the plants in this heat.  As the packets are black and above ground, they get very hot.  We have been watering later in the evenings to make sure the plants get all the benefit of the water we use.  I am pleased that we don’t waste any water and had the foresight to use individual sprays in the bigger packets which cuts any excess water to the minimum.  The extra we use goes into our water harvesting system and thus almost no water is wasted in the nursery.

Public Holiday:  We are OPEN Family Day 1st April.  We are closed on Good Friday 29th March.


Jeffrey and David have been holding empowerment meetings with people, particularly the women, who seem most interested in improving their lives.  From these meetings we have identified a few people who we would like to support to start their own micro-businesses.  This means your ongoing support is crucial in helping / uplifting the local communities.  

There are many amazing people out there who have never had a chance, these are the people we are training to start their own small businesses.   We are working this on the basis of a small non-interest-bearing loan which is to be repaid back into the fund once the business is bringing in a return.

In the meantime, with your help, we are still able to hand out a hundred food parcels a month to the desperate.

Jeffrey and David are doing a sterling job of going out into the communities to identify people who truly need help.   They also to identify people who have the ability to run their own businesses.

Please could I ask you to continue with your generous donations in order to continue with this project. 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

When you visit us, please think of bringing along a donation of non-perishable food to help replenish our food parcels.

MOTHER’S DAY – We declare Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May as Mother’s Day Weekend. We look forward to welcoming all the hard working, dedicated mothers on this special weekend where we can show our appreciation for their continuing support of Random Harvest.

There will be a little gift awaiting all the mothers who choose to visit us on this special day.

Bring your mom along and spoil her with a delicious High Tea or if you would prefer book a breakfast buffet.  

Cost for either is R220.00 per person.

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


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.  The children that have done the trail were so proud of their tree that they planted to take home with them.  I hope they thrive and a whole lot more indigenous trees are planted out to give us shade and a refuge for the wildlife in their area.

There is no charge for this event which runs until the 14th April


It seems as if the birds are also anticipating the change in seasons.  The Pin-tailed Whydah who was so visible, proud and displaying for the females has now lost his tail and his attitude.  He has turned into a scruffy little bird, well on his way to becoming just another little brown bird for the winter season.

The bird walk dates are

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

Date: 18th May with Chris Hines
Time: 7h00 for 7h30

Cost: R195.00 per person, this includes a delicious breakfast buffet 

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


If you have a keen interest in birds and want to learn more about birding as a hobby, or just need a refresher, then the Birding Basics Course is perfect for you. The course will help you navigate bird identification through learning about plumage patterns and variation, the diversity of beaks and feet that tell you about the bird you are looking at, and a little about using habitat and distribution to help you solve your identification dilemmas. We will touch on the importance of understanding a bit about bird biology as we go along. We will also spend some time on helping you access and use all the tools at your disposal – books, apps (which give you images, sound, distribution information and more), internet resources – and a look at binoculars. 

The emphasis is in developing your birding skills through enhancing observation and interpretation. Come along for a bit of fun to open up a whole world of opportunities to see birds and nature in a very rewarding way.  

Date: Saturday 27th April 
Time: 6h30 for 7h00 
Cost: R500.00 per person fully inclusive of the course, welcome coffee and rusks and a buffet breakfast.

We will start with a welcome drink then a bird walk, while it is still cool.

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


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.

Date: Wednesday 1st May at 10h30    
Topic: Random Harvest Rare Plant collection 

Jonathan and Mike will share with you what we are trying to achieve with this collection and show you some species which are seldom seen by anyone except botanists.

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.) 


The tea garden is a lovely space under the trees where you can enjoy the delicious coffee made by Lassy or indulge in one of the homemade cakes or scones baked on site by Frans.  They both imbue their food with love and care.

I thought I would remind you that our wonderful boma nestled under the Acacias is a perfect venue for special events.

Whether it is for business or private events it is in a nice peaceful corner of the nursery.


Our new stock of pure raw honey has ben delivered by Rory who will be giving the talk on bees and honey this month for the coffee morning.

There are various flavours of honey depending on what plants the bees have been feeding on.  I am surprised at just how distinctive each flavour is.

Our Namaqualand Daisy seed is now in stock.  It is time to start planting for a burst of colour in the spring.  

In these dry times remember to place pebbles on the edges of ponds so that bees and insects can perch on them to drink.  For bigger ponds or swimming pools use a a ‘Bee Island’ which will help any creatures that have fallen into the pond and it is a handy place for them to perch on to drink.

The Insect Hotels we make create a home for all manner of creatures including Geckos and Skinks


Many is the time I have thought there are too many trees and too much shade in the retail area.  With this heat both my customers and my staff are grateful for the shade and how they keep the nursery cool. 

We have built a little display of a ‘Naturalistic Gardening’ bed.  Not only is this type of garden great for wildlife but is very drought resistant as well.  It takes a little maintenance in the beginning to keep the weeds down but once settled requires very little maintenance.  Once or twice a year one should remove some of the grass seedlings to keep the balance of grass and wildflowers correct.


We started as a tree lovers’ nursery and although we have expanded our range of plants to include shrubs, groundcovers, bulbs, succulents and grassland plants, trees are still a big part of the nursery.

We can’t resist growing unusual tree species.  Many of our wonderful Bushveld trees do well here on the highveld as do many other species of trees from all over South Africa.

Monodora junodii (Green Apple Tree) is very seldom found in cultivation.  Imagine the excitement when I found 2 of the 40L trees had seeds on them.  Needless to say, they have been planted out in the hopes of future seeds to propagate from.  I am just disappointed I didn’t see the flowers which are similar to those of an Orchid, with lime green outer petals and purple-maroon inner petals.

Give us a call if you are looking for interesting trees to plant in your projects.


This venue is perfect for business group bookings.  We have all the facilities you could need from the use of the Boma nestled in a peaceful corner, overhead projector, free WiFi with 2 incoming sources, flip charts and the use of our office facilities.

Loadshedding is a non-issue as we have a large solar plant and in the event of no sunshine a diesel generator to ensure you have continuous power.

The fully fitted out accommodation is comfortable.  All your delegates’ needs are taken into account, from delicious filter coffee to comfy beds and indigenous gardens to relax in after a hard day’s work.

We also cater for all meals which are prepared in our kitchen and use only the best ingredients from homemade bread to farm butter and fresh farm milk.

Added benefits are guided bird walks, tours of the indigenous nursery or for the energetic, take a walk to the dam to watch the beautiful sunrise and allow a sense of peace to wash over you.

Book directly with us for attractive discounted prices.


Barleria x repens ‘Pink’ - Small Bush Violet 
Hardy, evergreen, small and fairly drought resistant herbaceous shrublet or groundcover that tends to sprawl.   It has glossy leaves and blooms profusely with glossy, pink flowers in summer and autumn but also has a few flowers for most of the year.  The flowers attract insects to the garden.  This plant is more compact than Barleria obtusa and can be pruned to keep in shape or to form a lovely small hedge.  This small Bush Violet is beautiful planted at the base of small trees or in amongst smaller grasses for a more natural look.  It also makes a wonderful container plant.  Plant in well-drained, compost-rich soil in sun or semi shade and mulch well.

Setaria sphacelata var. sericea - Golden Bristle Grass 
Hardy, evergreen, beautiful, neatly tufted grass.  It bears dense, golden inflorescences of hairy flowers from Oct. to May that look like miniature bulrushes.  Although this is a tall grass, it is neat and narrow and does not go wild.  It attracts birds to the garden and is the host plant of various butterfly species.  It makes a lovely form plant and can be planted in a grassland garden, as a backdrop to a colourful bed or mass-plant for a beautiful effect.   As with most grasses, it should be cut back once a year and the thatch removed.  It grows in sun or semi-shade and needs regular watering.

Hoslundia opposita  - Orange Bird Berry 
Hardy, evergreen, small, sometimes spreading soft shrub.  From Oct. to Feb., it bears creamy-green flowers that are irresistible to butterflies and other pollinating insects.  These are followed by bright orange-red, tasty edible fruit that are much sought after by birds hence the common name.  Plant in well-drained soil in full sun where they create attractive borders.   They make great container plants. Prune once or twice a year to keep in shape.  An absolute must for a wildlife garden.

Rhoicissus sekhukhuniensis – Sekhukhune Grape
This rare, recently discovered plant is endemic to Sekhukhuneland (it is the only area in the world it is found).

It is a hardy and fairly slow growing scrambling shrub or climber.  Its most exceptional feature is the beautiful, large leaves that are at most variously coloured from Grey to Bronze with growing tips that are a delicate pink.  The yellow-green flowers are inconspicuous.  The flowers and fruit attract many insects, moths and birds.  It is beautiful when it drapes itself over rocks.   It also makes an attractive container plant.  This drought hardy plant grows best in compost rich soil in semi-shade.

Aloe fosteri - Foster’s Aloe 
A hardy, stemless Aloe with leaves that have a grey, powdery surface and white, almost “H-shaped” markings on the upper surface.   The blue-grey, branched flowering stalk bears brightly-coloured flowers, varying from yellow to orange and even scarlet.  It blooms in Mar. and Apr. and, when in bloom and planted en masse it is a magnificent sight.  Added to this are the many species of Sunbirds and insects that are continuously visiting the flowers. This is an easy Aloe to grow and is not susceptible to the diseases that can plague some Aloe species.   A beautiful addition to a sunny area of the garden.

Lantana mearnsii
Hardy, evergreen, small shrub with aromatic, quilted leaves. The small panicles of white flowers which are held above the leaves attract a whole host of insects and are borne from Sept. to April.  These are followed by clumps of flesh covered seeds that turn a pinkish colour.  The seeds are relished by birds and seldom get a chance to ripen properly.  This is a fairly insignificant shrub but is great in a wildlife garden and attracts a whole host of butterflies.  Plant in sun or semi shade.


Adenium obesum subs. multiflorum - Impala Lily This semi-hardy, deciduous, succulent shrub has thick swollen branches and roots.  The slightly fleshy leaves appear after flowering.  The large, showy, white or pink flowers with a pink to dark red border and crinkly margins are borne from May to Sept. on the bare silvery stems.  The velvety pods are paired and cigar-shaped.  This is an unusual garden or container plant.  It needs a well-drained soil, full sun and protection against frost.  Do not overwater as it may rot.

Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Aureated’ - Speckled Spur-Flower 
Outstanding, fairly hardy, evergreen groundcover with attractive, quilted, dark-green and yellow variegated leaves that have purple undersides and purple stems.  It has spikes of white or mauve flowers in late summer and autumn that attract insects and butterflies to the garden.    In light shade or semi-shade areas, this attractive groundcover provides colour with its gold and purple leaves all year round.  Plant in containers or hanging baskets as well as in the open ground.  Prune back lightly after flowering to keep in shape and encourage mass flowering the next season.  It prefers well-composted soil with adequate water. Plant in light shade or semi-shade.

Trimeria grandifolia - Wild Mulberry 
Hardy, deciduous small tree with beautiful, large, shiny round leaves.  It has small sprays of densely hairy, white flowers from Aug. to Feb. and tight clusters of small red and yellow berries that look like mulberries.  Male and female flowers on separate trees therefore only the female trees bear fruit.  It is a butterfly host plant and has many medicinal uses.  This is a very useful foliage plant that adds texture to the garden.  Grows in semi-shade, in compost rich soil.

Bulbine natalensis – Broad-leaved Bulbine
Hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, succulent plant with bright green, softly fleshy leaves that form a basal rosette.  Star-shaped, yellow flowers are held in densely packed spikes at the ends of long, gracefully-arching, flowering stems throughout the year.  The pollen and nectar-rich flowers attract pollinating insects to the garden.  It is an ideal rockery or bedding plant and also makes a worthwhile container plant.  It has many medicinal uses, particularly for quick relief when used on stings and bites. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun or semi-shade.

Cyperus papyrus - Papyrus Sedge (E); Papirus (A)
Cyperus papyrus is a hardy, evergreen sedge.  It is the largest sedge in Africa.  It forms clumps of tall, green, bare stems, topped by heads of grass-like flower spikelets, giving it a mop-like appearance.  Attracts many birds such as weavers, waders and water birds.  A wonderful form plant that is ideal for wetlands, water edges, bog gardens and the cleaning of grey water.  When planted in the garden it should be watered well.  Cut the stems back in early spring and they will shoot quickly. This adaptable plant can be grown in sun or semi-shade.


Did you know that grasses are one of the most drought hardy and water efficient plants you can plant in your garden?  It may look dry but just a few millimetres of rain will change them completely and almost overnight they will green up again.

The life of grassland plants is mostly underground which is an evolutionary protection against grazing and burning.  Grasses have evolved to have their growing tips at ground level rather than the top of the plant for the same reason.  The many wildflowers and bulbs store their food and water underground in big roots, bulbs or rhizomes.  This makes them very drought and cold resistant.

In time of extreme heat and water shortages this makes them perfect plants for your garden.  A grass bed is made up of half grasses and half wildflowers which will create a pretty floriferous meadow garden.

Choose the wildflowers and small shrubs such as Lantana rugosa and climbers such as Vigna vexillata.  There are seasons in a meadow garden.  Pre-rain flowers such as the African Potato (Hypoxis hemerocallidea) and other small plants are mostly shorter plants.  Once the grasses start growing you will find taller flowers such as Senecio speciosus and Haplocarpha scaposa. and as the season progresses, bulb flowers will be taller than the surrounding grasses.  After Christmas it is the time of the grasses which flower and seed and add their own beauty to the meadow bed.  Plant some Aloes such as Aloe verecunda and Aloe greatheaddi for a spurge of winter flowers.

It is wonderful to see the grasses moving gently with the breeze and to watch the insects and wildlife that such a garden will attract.

In July cut the grasses back and rake up the thatch in preparation for the pre rain flowers starting once again.  It is important to remove the thatch so that you do not smother the growing tip of the grasses at ground level.


Aren’t I lucky that the first thing I see in the garden in the early morning on my way to the office is the rising sun setting the stems of this fever tree aglow. Beautiful! 

Then I am tantalised by the melodious calls of the Orange-breasted Bush Shrike.  He is so cryptic we seldom see him but hear him in the gardens and nursery.  What a way to start the day!

The Thick Knees have been calling at night.  I find this unusual as they normally are so vocal in spring not autumn although the weather is so weird I am sure they are as confused as we are.

The grassland is always full of surprises and this year we found a new species of grass.  Here Paul is on his hands and knees with a grass book.  It is Andropogon schirensis and is the only plant of its kind on the farm.

Even though it has been so dry, the resilience of grasses amazes me.  Here is one of our new calves sleeping contentedly amongst them while the Cattle Egret stalks around hoping to make a meal of the many insects in amongst the grasses.

Everything is not always so peaceful.  We had a huge electrical storm.  One bolt of lightning, which sounded like a bomb going off, struck a Cussonia and mangled it into pieces.  The other tree that was hit only had a zigzag scar.  A whole lot of our electronics were hit as well as our cutting house and pumps.  Well, those are the vagaries of farming.  But we are almost done with repairs and soon it will be a distant memory.

I am always happy when we see a snake, it means the environment is healthy.  It is especially exciting when it is harmless, and we can leave them be.

The Guinea Fowl have a lot of babies.  It has taken Jeff weeks to get a picture of them as the parents keep them so well hidden.  Two of the babies are white which indicated that they are domesticated.  I am not sure how this happened as we leave them to lead a completely natural life.

It is the time of year when we see a lot of butterflies both in the grassland and in the nursery.

The bees and butterflies are competing for the same source of food, especially from the Vygie flowers.

I am happy to see a lot of insects around.  Even the scary ones like hornets and wasps.

The flowers are full of tiny pollinating insects.

These are all a sign of a healthy environment which is what we strive for here at Random Harvest where we love sharing our lives with the creatures around us.

Early mornings, watching the sunrise down at the dam help one start the day with a sense of peace and beauty – a real gift in this frenetic world.

We look forward to your visits.



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