Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - June 2024

Posted On: Saturday, June 1, 2024

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast

I can’t believe the weather is so mild and mid-winter is just around the corner.  The plants are still happily growing which makes me a little nervous as if we do have a black frost, they will be damaged.  We have cut the water drastically to try and stop them growing and toughen up a little.  

Having said this, I am happy and basking in the weather instead of freezing when I go down to the office at 6h30 each morning.  To add to this, I am blessed with beautiful winter sunrises in the garden.  What a way to start the day.


We have had a busy month in the nursery.  I always seem to have some project or another running around in my head so manage to keep everyone super busy with no time to rest on their laurels.

We have made new furrows to take the water from the buildings and into the cow’s pasture where all the excess water can do some good for the grazing potential of the pastures.

I was very sad that we had to take down a huge Acacia sieberiana (Paperbark Acacia).  It was shading the solar panels for half the day.  I must say that I have agonised on this for the last 6 months but, finally decided that we had to sacrifice it for the electricity especially after the huge investment installing the solar system, which has been the saving of Random Harvest.  It was a horrible day and I apologised to the tree many times over.

The scary part was how little mulch was made from such a huge tree.

Even though the weather has been so mild, Jeff and I decided to prepare the plants in the nursery for covering with frost cover.  It is always best to be safe than sorry.  All the hoops are ready and all we need to do is pull the frost cover over them.

Public Holiday:  We are OPEN on Youth Day 16th and 17th June


I am so grateful to Jeffrey and David who give so selflessly of their time over the weekends to visit people in the informal settlements to distribute the food parcels and to offer a message of hope and empowerment.  

Thanks to your generous donations this month we have been able to make 150 ‘Meal in a bag’ to distribute.  Each bag is enough for 6 meals.  I am pleased we can do this as each time we distribute the parcels there are many people who are not on the list and just arrive in the hopes of receiving a food parcel.  We will then at least be able to help in some small way.

If you are able to continue with your invaluable assistance the 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

FATHER’S  DAY - Sunday 16th June.

We are looking forward to welcoming all the fathers who throughout their lives have been so caring of their families and in our case, so loyal and supportive of Random Harvest over the years.

To show our appreciation, there will be a little gift awaiting all the fathers who choose to visit us on this special day.

Bring your dad along and spoil him with a buffet breakfast, a delicious sweet and savoury finger food spread or relax and enjoy a picnic in the garden.  Take this opportunity to relax and enjoy simply chatting and spending some time together.   This is something we miss in the frenetic world we live in.

Cost for either buffet breakfast, picnic or finger food is R220.00 per person.

Booking is essential - please contact Ronald on [email protected] or Tel. No. 066-587-3077

CHILDRENS HOLIDAY PROGRAM – June 15th to July 10th

Bring the children along during the school holidays and we will show them how to plant up a pot with succulent plants.  They will be able to choose from a range of different succulents and decorate the pot with pebbles.  They will take their plants home to nurture and look after.  Hopefully this teaches them a love of plants and nature which will hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

Cost R35.00 per child – No booking required


Walking on the farm on an early winter morning doing some birdwatching has a special sense of peace.  Enjoy all the wonderful autumn colours of the veld grass – it is an opportunity to truly observe their beauty instead of writing it off as just brown.  Jeffrey and I enjoy the winter grassland in the low light everyday – we are the lucky ones.

Date: 1st June with Lance Robinson
Time: 7h00 for 7h30

Date: 20th July 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. 066-587-3077


Date: Wednesday 5th June at 10h30    
Topic: Coffee tasting and roasting

Date: Wednesday 3rd July at 10h30    
Topic: Trees for small gardens with Jeffrey

We all love trees and if your name is Linda, you plant way too many.  Luckily, I have enough space to indulge my weakness but if you have only a small area it is vital that you choose the right trees for your application.   Jeffrey will share his vast knowledge of trees with you on this morning.

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.) 


Friday, 7 June - Practical Gardener Training

This practical gardening course, demonstrating new and sustainable techniques, is ideal for a gardener at any level - beginner, intermediate or advanced. We cover a wide range of topics such as soil health, mulching and feeding the garden, including tackling a practical gardening project outdoors. Pruning and propagation is also included, making this a well-rounded, inspirational day. A beautiful Certificate of Attendance is presented to each candidate at the end of the workshop. Give your gardener the gift of knowledge by enrolling him today. 

Email: [email protected] or WhatsApp Lindsay on 0824499237 for more information and to reserve your gardener's place.

Sat, 8 June - Designing & Planting an Indigenous Garden. 

Lindsay will be addressing the design principles that every gardener should know. Coupled with that is a fabulous method for learning your plants and how to group them to create a beautiful palette that will also be a haven for wildlife. 

 08h30 – 13h00.  Contact Lindsay on 0824499237 for more information.


Remember to book for a Father’s Day outing in time.  This will give our staff enough time to prepare all the food with love and care.

I wanted to remind you that every Wednesday is Pensioner’s Day in the Nursery and Teagarden.  Visit us and enjoy a delicious homemade scone, served with fresh farm cream and homemade jam, and tea for R60.00 per person.

Remember there is also a discount of 10% on plants for pensioners on this day.

For those of you with special dietary requirements we are now able to serve Almond milk and gluten free bread.


Good News!  All the trees in the nursery will be subject to a 10% discount for the months of June and July.  Winter is a good time to plant trees except in exceptionally cold areas.  By planting trees at this time of year allows them to settle their roots in preparation for when the days get longer, and the soil starts to warm up and they then start to grow.

See the gardening tip for the correct way to plant a tree.

We were having problems with the pump in the pond in the nursery.  After much puzzling Jeffrey remembered that we hadn’t cleaned the pond for a few years.

What a surprise when we saw how much mud had collected on the bottom.  This mainly comes from the leaves and seeds that fall into the pond from the huge Monkey Thorn above it.

Fortunately, the pond is working perfectly again.

We have just received a new selection of hand made terracotta pots which are very reasonably priced.  Browse the pot selection and then choose the perfect plant to enhance the pot you have chosen to liven up your patio, courtyard or garden.


I thought I would remind you that we do deliveries far and wide.  We regularly deliver to Cape Town and to towns in KwaZulu Natal.

We will also deliver to more remote areas and have delivered to towns in the Northern Cape, Namibia and Botswana.

Call us for a quotation to deliver your beautiful indigenous plants wherever you need them.

Jonathan, Jeffrey and I are always available to help you with plant choices especially as some of the beautiful indigenous plants that we grow are less well known but could help you to create interesting and biodiverse landscapes for your clients.


Random Harvest is a marvellous meeting venue for the members of the many interesting clubs around.  Be it a birding, book, photography club or even a stokvel we are the perfect base for your next adventure, look no further than Random Harvest Country Cottages.  

Our cottages offer the perfect blend of independence, safety, privacy and security. Set in their own private gardens, our cosy units feature a kitchenette and a patio where you can unwind and enjoy a book while soaking in the beautiful views of your own private indigenous garden. 

The cottages are situated on a working farm, you will definitely be surrounded by picturesque landscapes and with about 175 different bird species that have been spotted on the farm.  The early morning bird walks will leave the birders fulfilled.

 We have a wonderful tea garden set under huge acacia trees where you can all come together for your delicious meals that are homemade with farm products and the freshest of ingredients.  It is a unique experience to be surrounded by plants and birdsong whilst enjoying your meal.

Spend a little time with us and create lasting memories in our countryside haven.


This month I thought I would concentrate on letting you know what homemade goodies we stock in the shop.

Some delicious edibles are:
Fudge R19.00
Rusks R22.50
Ginger cookies R22.50
Italian lemon cookies R22.50
Jam R90.00
Bread and butter pickles R55.00

We are also making and stocking Impepho which is a traditional medicine made from Helichrysum species.  Traditionally it is burnt, and it is said that inhaling the smoke helps a person to relax and sleep better - R55.00

We have a young lady from Ligna designs who has made beautiful Bookmarks made from olive wood.  They are so delicately thin and have a wonderful feel.  

She has also made made some different Bee hotels and Nesting Boxes to grace your garden and help increase biodiversity.

Bookmarks vary from R155.00 to R175.00 and Bee Hotels and nesting boxes from R245.00 to R398.00.


Coleus livinstonei [Pychnostachys urticifolia) - Hedgehog Sage (E)
Coleus urticifolia is a hardy, evergreen, herbaceous perennial with angular pinky-brown stems and bright-green, toothed leaves that are roughly triangular. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. The flowers are borne in autumn (Apr. to Jun.) in spikes at the ends of branches. The beautiful deep blue to mauve flowers attract bees and other pollinating insects to the garden.  Hedgehog Sage is an ideal ingredient in a cottage garden, and contrasts beautifully with other plants flowering at this time of the year (for example: orange flowers of Leonotis leonurus and pink flowers of Hypoestes aristata and Syncolostemon densiflorus). To benefit from the lovely flowers in late autumn, it needs to be planted in a spot that is protected from frost. It prefers well-drained, well-composted soil in sun or semi-shade. Size: 1 to 2m

Dovyalis lucida - Glossy Kei Apple (E)
Hardy, evergreen, small tree or shrub with leathery, shiny, dark green leaves that are paler below.  It has an attractive yellow-white bark.  From Aug. to Oct., they bear inconspicuous, quite short-lived white flowers with bright yellow stamens.  These are followed by attractive orange-red fleshy fruits that are densely covered in hairs. Male and female flowers are on separate plants, and therefore only female plants will bear fruit.   The fruits are edible but sour and are much sought after by birds.  size 4 to 8m

Steganotaenia araliacea - Carrot Tree (E);
Fairly hardy, variably deciduous, small tree with a lovely waxy sheen to its grey green, peeling, papery bark.  The pale green leaves with sharply toothed margins have a hair-like point. The inconspicuous small, tightly bunched greenish white flowers appear from Aug. to Oct., followed by papery seeds.  All parts of the tree smell strongly of carrots. The flowers attract pollinating insects to the garden.  Plant in a rockery or succulent garden in a spot that is protected from the cold wind and in well-drained soil.  While it is most often found in full sun in its natural habitat, it will grow equally well in semi-shade in cultivation.  Size: 2m to 6m

Rawsonia lucida - Forest Peach (E)
Fairly hardy, evergreen, small, neat tree with a straight stem and bark flaking in grey strips revealing orange patches and thrives in deep, dense shade.  The leaves are leathery and bright, glossy green.  From Sept. to Nov., it bears clusters of sweetly scented, beautiful fluffy creamy-white flowers which attract a whole host of pollinating insects. followed by yellow, fleshy, edible fruit which are irresistible to many species of fruit eating birds. It is an important butterfly host to Charaxes, Acraea, Commodore and Nymph butterflies.    They thrive in those difficult deep shady areas that may be moist where other trees would struggle.  Perfect for smaller gardens.  Plant in well composted soil and water regularly.  Size 3 to 10m

Khadia acutipetala - Khadi-wortel (A)
Very hardy clump forming, dwarf succulent with attractive blue-green leaves that have a mottled surface.  The leaves arise from a thickened rootstock  that form a sharp triangle near the tip. In midsummer this attractive little plant is covered with magenta-pink, vygie type flowers that attract insects to the garden.  Pla nt in full sun as the flowers only open in bright sunlight.  Great planted in rockeries or containers.  The root of Khadia acutipetala has been used in local beer brewing by indigenous South African people. Size 10 to 20cm 

Pelargonium laxum - Storksbill (E)
Hardy, succulent shrub with twisted and curved stems that are whitish in colour.  The grey-green leaves are very deeply lobed almost carrot-looking and are an attractive feature of this plant. In early winter it bears white or v ery pale pink flowers that have a dark red stripe in the middle and beautiful red anthers.  The flowers are held on long stems well above the plant.  Plant in a succulent garden or rockery.  With its twisted and curved stems, it makes an interesting container plant.  Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.  Size up to 30cm


Trees are a vital part of our lives and the lives of the many creatures that share our space with us.

When choosing a tree ask yourself these two important questions
What size do you want the tree to eventually reach?  Consider the size of your property - smaller properties cannot accommodate large trees as they will take over the whole garden and block out the sun.  Avoid trees with large dark leaves in small spaces as they can become oppressive.  Larger properties can of course accommodate large trees but once again care should be taken in placing them for example not too close to your house.  Trees with small lighter coloured foliage or deciduous trees can be planted nearer a house.  In some spaces it is better to plant a cluster of small trees together to give an illusion of size. 
Where do you plant a tree?  Check the root system of the tree you have chosen.  Be careful of planting trees with aggressive root systems near your house, pools, ponds and paving.  In small gardens it is always best to plant trees with a non-aggressive root system.  Think carefully about future developments on your property as you do not want to have to remove a tree that has been growing for years.

GARDEN TIP - How to plant a tree

•    Remember that the roots of all trees spread out horizontally and grow into the first 80 or 90cm of soil.  This is because they need oxygen to feed and below this depth there is very little or no oxygen.
•    Dig a wide shallow saucer-shaped hole that is as deep as the height of the root ball of your tree (contrary to the old way of digging a huge square hole).  It is especially necessary to dig the hole wide if the soil is compacted.  The loosening of this soil will encourage horizontal growth of the roots.  The roots can spread as much as twice the height of the tree.
•    Identify the trunk flare, which is the area where the trunk starts to flare and the root and stem bark meet.  This area must be exposed to the air and not buried.
•    Place the tree in the hole at the correct height with the trunk flare above the soil line.  If planted too deeply the roots will suffocate and thus not grow well and the tree may even die as it impedes its ability to move carbohydrates up and down from the canopy.
•    Never pick a tree up by the trunk but always by the root ball
•    Straighten the tree in the hole - back fill to one third and tamp down.  Gently scratch the root ball to loosen fine roots to encourage them to grow into the new soil.  Then back fill the rest of the hole and tamp down.
•    If your tree does not stand upright stake it according to the diagram.  Beware of tying anything around the tree that will damage the bark.  A piece of hosepipe threaded with wire will do.  Place the hosepipe covered wire around the tree and make a figure of eight around the stake.
•    Immediately after planting sprinkle Rockdust around tree and then mulch with woodchips, leaf mould or compost in a large area around the tree.  It should not be more than 10cm deep and not rest against the stem of the tree.   If you think it is necessary, you can sprinkle with 5:1:5 or 2:3:2 slow-release fertiliser before you cover with the mulch.
•    Keep the soil moist but not soaked. 


Many of the rare plants we are propagating are winter growing and are now in bloom.  As you can see from Mikes face, he is thrilled with the outcome of his main project at Random Harvest which is to collect and propagate rare plants in the hopes of making a difference to their survival. 

Even after 34 years of growing indigenous plants we are still absolutely amazed at the variety and beauty of the plants this country is blessed with.

Examples of these marvellous plants are this Quaqua racemosa and Pieranthus geminatus.

This Juvenile Little Sparrowhawk was totally confused and was running up and down the branches after the doves.  He was almost playing with them and forgetting that doves are his main food source.

The sunbirds are spoilt for choice.  With all the Aloes and Wild Dagga blooming they can’t seem to make up their minds which of the plants have the most delicious nectar to sip.

It was lovely to see the African Olive Pigeon again.  I just wish he would call as they have the most amazing call but it is seldom heard.

It was very exciting seeing the Red-throated Wryneck again as we haven’t seen him for quite some time.

One of my favourite birds at Random Harvest are the Thick Knees.  They watch us carefully out of their huge yellow eyes during the day and at night it is a joy to sit and listen to their wonderful haunting calls.

I was so excited to see this huge Rain Spider on the wall just outside my bedroom window.

I am just happy he was outside and not in my bed.  When I think of the good spiders do in the environment it is sad that people think they have to kill them when it is very easy to move them out into the garden by covering the spider with a glass and sliding a piece of paper or cardboard under the glass to trap it and move it safely outside.

There are so many midges in the nursery.  They are a wonderful food source for birds, frogs, lizards and any number of other creatures in the nursery area.

The Ribbon Bushes (Hypoestes aristata) are in full bloom and are a feast for the eyes as well as the many insects buzzing around them.

The butterflies are also rejoicing at the number of flowers on the Honey Bell bush (Freylinia lanceolata).  Any time you are near them you get this wonderful scent of honey permeating the air and are guaranteed any number of butterflies queuing for their share of the nectar produced by the flowers.

It wouldn’t be a newsletter without me sharing with you what is happening in the grassland.

We have been cutting the seed heads off the Thatching Grass to keep its numbers under control. Luckily it is the last grass to seed in the season. 

The colours in the grassland are truly beautiful if one just takes the time to observe it in a little detail.

The grassland at Random Harvest is my haven and favourite place to be.  I love sharing the sense of peace it imparts with Jeffrey everyday and also with all the many visitors who take the time to listen and go for a walk.  It is a peaceful and beautiful experience to be so close to nature.

We have a new baby, a beautiful heifer calf borne in May.

There is always something interesting to see and do here at Random Harvest even if it is only watching the Common waxbills foraging for seed in a clump of grass.

It is a privilege and pleasure to share it with our many customers.

Keep warm.



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