Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - May 2024

Posted On: Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I have loved the rain we have had in the past few weeks – what a relief from the heat.  It is also a wonderful way to go into autumn with the moisture in the soil to help sustain the veld through winter. 

There is more water in the dam now than at any time during the last season.  It was so great to go to the dam and see so much water and also how beautiful the sky was.  Bright blue and washed clean of pollution.


We have had happy times and explosive times here at Random Harvest.

We had not one but two staff weddings in April.  Sarie from our sales department and Paul who does our seed propagation both got married in the gardens.  

What happy days those were.

The explosive time was that we had one lightning strike which hit a Cussonia spicata and literally blew it into a thousand pieces.  While it was at it, it burnt all the controllers in our mist house, hit three pumps and both of our internet supplies. Life is never boring when you live on a farm.

At long last! we have finished our third filter for our sewage treatment system which is now working perfectly.

Jeffrey and I thought we would clean out our irrigation dam before it got too cold and uncomfortable for the staff to do the job.

Public Holiday:  We are OPEN on Workers day 1st May and on voting day 29th May


I am so excited about and deeply grateful for our first donation from Europe.  I am so grateful to the donor as when one converts from Euros to Rands it makes a huge difference.

This month we helped a few destitute families whose shacks had burnt down in Zandspruit.  We gave them food parcels and Random Harvest sponsored school uniforms for the children who were affected.  

It was truly heartwarming to have the opportunity to assist people who are so in need.

We have a relationship with a group of social workers who are close to the communities and know the families that are in desperate need of assistance, many of whom are disabled.  This means you can be doubly assured that your generous donations are going directly to those in 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


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, 

To 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


This is a wonderful time of year to watch the sunbirds which are flitting around the Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga) and the Aloe flowers.  This is the best time of year to watch them as they are so focused on sipping nectar that they just don’t notice you standing nearby.
Date: 18th May with Chris Hines 
Time: 7h00 for 7h30

Date: 1st June with Lance Robinson
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


Date: Wednesday 1st May at 10h30    
Topic: Jonathan and Mike discuss our rare plant collection
Jonathan will share with you what we are trying to achieve with our collection of rare plants.  He will take you on a tour of the area and show you some species which are seldom seen by anyone except botanists.

Date: Wednesday 5th June at 10h30    
Topic: Coffee tasting and roasting
We thought we would have a warming subject this month and do something different for this coffee morning. Dave who supplies our coffee will do a talk about coffee, do coffee tasting and tell us about roasting coffee.  We will also introduce you to indigenous coffee and a few other plants that produce seeds that can be roasted to make a coffee substitute.

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 Gray will continue with her Practical Gardener Training.  This is a perfect   launching pad for all beginner gardeners.  Lindsay will teach tips and techniques from preparing the soil to planting and maintaining the plants in your garden.

At the end each attendee will receive a certificate.  This will prove invaluable to the future of your gardener.

Course dates: the following Fridays, from 08h30 to 15h30
7th June        16th August        11th October        15th November.
For more detailed information contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or email [email protected]


Our tea garden is a perfect spot for business meetings and brainstorming sessions where good food can be enjoyed as well.  It’s quiet and peaceful atmosphere is conducive to creative thinking.   We offer uncapped Wi-Fi and are able to do confidential printing via a USB plugged directly into the printer.   No booking is required during the week.


Bring your dad along to enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast and allow us to serve you while you reconnect and enjoy each other’s company.  In our busy lives this is an opportunity to show them how much we love and appreciate them.  If your father has a sweet tooth book a delicious High Tea.

We will have a small gift awaiting him to show our appreciation of the important place in our lives our fathers have.

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


We are in the middle of doing a clean up of the nursery and it is beginning to look beautiful.  We are hoping this makes it easier to choose what beautiful indigenous plants you would like to plant in your garden to please both you and the wildlife that shares your garden.

There is always a person with advanced knowledge of indigenous plants who can help you with your choices for your garden.

If you need some design inspiration for your garden bring along a few pictures of the area you are planting and some rough measurements.  If it is a larger area, please make an appointment to ensure that adequate time is set aside to be able to assist you properly.

We are also able to send someone to see your garden.  This will be charged for at R350.00 per hour which is deductible at the rate of R100.00 per R1000.00 spent on plants bought from Random Harvest Nursery.


We have a new lady, Naomi, to help Jonathan and Sarie in our orders and sales department.  I am sharing this picture with you, so you know who you are talking to when next you call.

When Professor Cassian Schmidt visited us, he gave us a copy of his presentation on Naturalistic planting which is the direction in which many European cities are moving to encourage both beauty and biodiversity.

Jonathan will present this to you on Saturday 18th May at 9h00 for 9h30 with ideas on how to use indigenous plants using the same principles.  We will also put a selection of plants together that can be used to create this effect.

This will be followed by a mini High Tea and question and answer session.

Not to be missed, if, as a landscaper, you are looking for inspiration on what to plant.  
Booking is essential - please contact Sari on [email protected] or Tel. No. 082-553-0791


We invite you to experience the charm of our farm accommodations. Whether you’re attending a wedding, planning a corporate break-away, or seeking a memorable mini-break with your loved ones, our diverse range of accommodation is ready to cater to your needs. Discover the tranquility of our surroundings, indulge in the comforts of our unique amenities, and create lasting memories on the working farm.

Random Harvest has a new project in the making - Green Prescription Nature-Based Intervention

At the heart of this indigenous wellness retreat lies a profound commitment to tranquility, authenticity, and well-being, fostering an environment where harmony and mindfulness are paramount. It is dedicated to the rejuvenation of its clients, offering a sanctuary that inspires and connects individuals to their natural heritage. This unique blend of values ensures a restorative experience, deeply rooted in nature for corporate employees and executives under pressure.


In keeping with the Gardening tip on ‘Safe Pesticides’ I thought to give you the information on what we have on the shelves to help on the journey of respecting nature whilst still having a beautiful garden.  In these artificial conditions we are living in, sometimes our gardens need a bit of treatment.

The reason these are safe is that they use natural remedies and have no residual effects on the environment, although some of them need to be treated with care.  An example is Margaret Roberts Caterpillar remedy which is a natural bacterium, but it affects all caterpillars both good and bad.  Use it only on your Clivias and Agapanthus which are not host plants of other butterflies and moths and will thus only affect the Amaryllis caterpillar.  If you want to use it on other bulbs, please check what caterpillars they play host to.

Margaret Roberts Caterpillar Remedy should be used in conjunction with Ludwig’s spray stay.
Pyrol, Bioneem and Nudosan, Neem oil, Pyrol, Agrisil
Protect your plants against the cold with Agrisil and Crop Cover


Oxalis purpurea - Grand Duchess Sorrel 
This hardy, dwarf, mounding, bulbous groundcover is deciduous for a few short months in summer.  It has bright green trifoliate, clover-like leaves which in themselves are attractive.  The form we grow flowers en masse with large white, trumpet shaped flowers with a yellow throat and continues flowering for at least half the year. It attracts many pollinating insects to the garden.  Plant between steppingstones, as a groundcover or create beautiful container plants.   This tough little plant grows in sun or semi-shade.    Size 60 to 70mm

Cephalaria zeyheriana - Mock Scabious
A very hardy, evergreen, soft, herbaceous perennial with attractive, lobed, grey-green foliage.  This free-flowering perennial has large, showy, white flowers carried on slender erect stems almost all year round.  Butterflies and insects are irresistibly attracted to its nectar, and it is seldom that you see a plant in flower without some form of life on or nearby.  Beautiful used as an element of a meadow, grassland or cottage garden.  Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering season.  Plant in full sun.  It tolerates some shade but needs at least half-day sun. Size: 15 to 30cm

Searsia pentherii - Common Crowberry
Hardy, mostly evergreen, small decorative tree with dark brown, bark fissured bark and olive-green, trifoliate leaves.  The inconspicuous flowers are borne from Aug. to March and are followed by masses of shiny, red brown fruit from Sept. to April (male and female flowers on separate plants, therefore only female plants bear fruit).    Ideal tree for a small garden in sun or semi-shade and a good addition to a bird garden.  Size 2 to 6m

Coffea racemosa - Mozambique Coffee 
Hardy, deciduous, slow growing rare, shrub or small tree with horizontal branching pattern.  It has dark green, shiny almost waxy leaves.  It bears white to pinkish flowers both singly and in small clusters along the branches from Sept. to Feb.  These are followed by small, round purple to black fruits.  The seeds produce a distinctively flavoured coffee that is low in caffeine.   Plant in a mixed bed or use as a specimen plant and it also makes a beautiful container plant.  This beautiful shrub is best planted in sun or semi shade in well-drained soil.  Size up to 5m

Sporobolus stapfianus - Fibrous dropseed 
Very hardy short, fine, tufted, fast growing grass with beautifully rolled leaves. This delicate grass is ideal for a small, compact rockery where it can be interplanted with perennials or create a meadow or grassland garden in small spaces. When in flower, Sporobolus stapfianus almost creates a misty look. The curly leaves look pretty in winter.   Cut back in late winter and remove thatch.  The seeds are sought after by small seed eating birds.  Plant in full sun or a little afternoon shade.  Size up to 30cm

Ehretia amoena - Sandpaper-bush
Fairly hardy, deciduous, small tree or shrub with gracefully arching branches which make great nesting sites.  It has dark green, rounded leaves that are paler below and have a sandpapery feel. The bark on the stem is white to pale brown and smooth turning grey with shallow cracks while the branches have ash white bark. Showy and fragrant white or pale mauve flowers are borne just before or with new leaves in spring and attract insects.  These are followed by masses of fleshy, yellow seeds that are relished by birds.   These features make this little tree a worthwhile addition to a small garden.   Size 3m


Aristida congesta subsp. congesta - Tassel Three Awn 
Very hardy, delicate, perennial, tufted grass with long white hairs where the leaf meets the stem.  It bears compact spikelets at the tips of the stems from Dec. to Jun.  This tough pioneer grass can be used to stabilise soil or cover bare patches to protect the soil.  It is pretty planted amongst flowering plants in a meadow garden or in a grassland garden.  It is unfussy about the soil type it is planted in and will thrive in all but waterlogged soils. As with all grasses it should be cut back once a year and raked to remove the thatch.   Size: Flowering stem up to 90cm 

Ziziphus rivularis - False Buffalo Thorn 
Hardy, rare, evergreen to semi-deciduous, fast growing small tree.  The attractive glossy, olive-green foliage has interesting but quite variable venation.  It bears small, yellowish, inconspicuous flowers in Nov. which attract insects to the garden.   These are followed by shiny yellow fruits that are much sought after by birds.  Perfect for a small garden, this beautiful tree requires full sun or light, semi-shade and can take seasonal inundation. Size up to 7m

Euphorbia tirucalli - Rubber Hedge 
Hardy, tough, drought resistant succulent shrub or small tree with rarely seen tiny leaves that fall very early as this plant uses its green stems to photosynthesise.  Traditionally it is utilised as a living hedge to provide a nocturnal kraal for livestock.  Although it is thornless, the dense, angular structure of the branchlets make it fairly impenetrable, especially in older specimens.  In some areas it will grow into a tree. Tiny yellow flowers appear from Sept. to Dec. at the ends of the new growth.  These flowers attract masses of insects and butterflies.  The seed capsules that follow are prized by everything from ants to birds and even monkeys.  The dense branches make ideal nesting sites for birds. As with most members of this genus, the sap is irritating and poisonous.  The plant is reputedly an effective banisher of moles. Size 3 to 5m

Barleria prionites subsp. delagoensis - Delagoa Bay Barleria 
Hardy, drought resistant small shrub with fresh green leaves that have spines in the leaf axils.  Dense terminal spikes of pale orange to pale yellow flowers are borne throughout summer and autumn.  They attract various species of butterflies, bees and tiny insects to the garden.  It is particularly suitable for stabilizing soil erosion water-wise gardens and rockeries. Prune regularly.  Enjoys sun or semi-shade and well-composted soil.  Size up to 40cm

Pelargonium graveolens - Rose-scented Pelargonium 
Hardy, evergreen shrub with large, velvety leaves that are strongly rose-scented.  It bears showy, pinkish-white umbels of attractive flowers peaking in Aug. to Jan.  Attracts insects to the garden. Geranium oil is produced from the fragrant leaves.   This many-branched shrub adds texture and fragrance to the garden and can be used in mixed borders and in a cottage style garden.  Attractive when planted in containers and large hanging baskets.    Plant in well-drained, moist soil in semi-shade and prune to keep in shape.                Size: up to 1m


Healthy gardens don’t get ravaged by pests. Sustainable solutions to pest control are an integral part of Random Harvest Nursery’s message to the gardening public. What point would there be in providing a wide variety of quality indigenous plants that attract a host of insect life, if we just went along with the use of pesticides that were harmful not only to the environment, but killed off all these important little creatures that help to keep our gardens healthy? 

If a garden is healthy, you are still going to find a few pests, but they won’t take over and decimate your plants.  Our mission as conscientious gardeners should be to maintain a balance in general.  We cannot enjoy a variety of beautiful butterflies, pollinated flowers, birds that eat insects and any number of other garden joys, if we do not accept that worms and caterpillars are in most cases, not pests, except for those that are well known for the damage they do, such as amaryllis (lily borer), lawn caterpillars and some beetles and their larvae. Pesticides will by default affect beneficial garden insects too and can go so far as to upset the delicate micro-life in our soils too.
There are a variety of environmentally sustainable pest control methods and chemicals that will minimize damage to the garden ecosystem, and still help to bring outbreaks of permanently damaging pests under control. Here are some ideas and products that can be employed.
Physical removal of weeds and insect pests (such as amaryllis caterpillars and snail outbreaks) by hand. Weeding after a day in the office, out in the setting sun or early in the morning can be very good for the soul. 

Use safe pesticides – there is a growing variety of organic and environmentally friendly pesticides on the market. Use of “safe” pesticides should only be a last resort when there is a large outbreak or infestation of insect pests. Have a look at our shop section for a few of the ones we sell. Most often the time at which as well as the way in which these safe pesticides are applied is as important as using them, to minimize damage to the environment.

Home remedies – these can be very effective for small outbreaks or confined areas of infestation by ants, flies, mosquitoes or other common pests.


Jeff and I thought our eyes were playing tricks on us when we saw this Purple Heron swimming on the dam.  It is the first time we have seen a Heron swimming.  Of course, we had to check the Roberts Bird App. and Lo and Behold they do sometimes swim to catch fish.  You live and learn.

We were excited to see this Lesser Grey Shrike – a new addition to our bird list.  Unfortunately, he was far away so the picture is not great.

I love it when we can get a picture showing the bird habits.  Jeff got this lovely picture of a Diederik Cuckoo enjoying a hairy caterpillar.  He is one of the very few birds that will eat the caterpillars of the Garden Acraea which munch the Wild Peach.

I was happy to see the Hamerkop at the dam as I was worried that I hadn’t heard him calling in the garden and thought he may have left Random Harvest.

Jeff found this Swallows nest under our old tank stand.  I love the stripes of different coloured mud they used to construct the nest.  I wish they would decide to nest on my veranda.

It was strange to see this Amethyst Sunbird sitting on the barbed wire fence.  Looks like he was singing for joy.  Maybe because the Aloes are starting to bloom throughout the nursery and are looking beautiful.  Of course, this is a feast for the Sunbirds and gives us the opportunity of watching them and the bees and a myriad of other insects feeding on the copious nectar.

So many plants in bloom also means that the nursery is fluttering with butterflies who are spoilt for choice on what flower to visit and what flower has the most delicious nectar.

What a joy it is to live with rich biodiversity around you.  It reconnects one with nature, feeds the soul and gives one a sense of peace and belonging which is sadly missing from the frantic lives we live.  After all we are just part of the web of life and all life is important to this web.

Many people have asked me what the green balls are on the trees so I thought it best to explain.

Some of our most beautiful and rare trees are extremely difficult to propagate by seed or normal cuttings.  This system is called air layering which means we are rooting cuttings or the branchlets while still growing on the tree.  When properly rooted, we cut off the branchlet and plant them straight into bags.  Growing plants is endlessly interesting.

No newsletter is complete without at least a mention of the grassland.  As the seasons change it is looking particularly beautiful with the turning to autumn colours.

The Heteropogon contortus (Spear Grass) with its knotted seed heads is nostalgic as when I was a child, I thought they were spiders’ nests.  These knotted seed heads are a beautiful component of the grassland.

I thought the beautiful tall Hyparrhenia tamba (Blue Thatching Grass) which has a distinct turquoise colour in summer would be beautiful planted against a panhandle driveway wall.  An added benefit is that it would not interfere with the walls.

There is always something interesting to observe in an indigenous garden.  Ronald found these insects eggs hanging from a wooden umbrella in the nursery.  I have no clue as to what creature so carefully hung them on a silk thread.

The sunrises at this time of year are spectacular and I enjoy them each morning on my way to the office (yes I am an early bird).

Looking forward to welcoming you to Random Harvest.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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