Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2012

Posted On: Monday, October 1, 2012

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Dear Indigenous enthusiast,

The early spring days are really beautiful and with the addition of the early rain they are gorgeous.  Normally it is still so dusty, but after the amazing rain we have had all the plants are washed clean and look brand new.  It is great to be alive and as I always say to Jeffrey "another tough day in Africa".  We are so lucky to live here.

Plants to tempt you.


Erica 'Fairy Bells'. 
This beautiful little Erica hybrid is great for a Fynbos lover's garden.  It was developed on the Highveld and does well in a well-drained sunny, but not too hot position.  Perfect planted in poor, acid soils.  When planting in normal soil remember to add some acid compost. - Price R45.00

Ornithogalum juncifolium - Grass leaved Chincherichee (E)
This beautiful little bulbous plant is hardy and requires little attention besides cutting back occasionally.  It is evergreen and has slender grass-like bright green leaves.  It bears masses of flower spikes with small white star-like florets from Sept. to Mar. that are a sight to behold.  Plant in full sun for best results although it will also flourish with half day sun.  Plant in amongst grasses or as part of a mixed perennial bed.  Cut back after flowering.  Attracts insects to the garden. Size 20 to 30cm. - Price R27.95

Croton gratissimus - Lavender Fever Berry (E)
If you are looking for a special tree for a sunny sheltered corner or a container, the Lavender Fever Berry is perfect.  It has beautiful fragrant, silvery green leaves with red spots on the undersides and a few bright orange leaves in the crown all year - a beautiful foliage plant.   In early spring it has massed sprays of tiny star-like, yellow flowers although there are some flowers throughout summer.  The leaves are used as perfume and it also has many other medicinal and traditional uses.  This is a tree you don't see often in cultivation as the seeds are hard to catch when they explode out of the seed pods.  Size 2 to 15m :  S.A. No . 328 - Price in 20litre Container R210.00

Catha edulis - Bushman's Tea (E), Boesmanstee (A)
Another beautiful, quite small, hardy, fast-growing tree that is also not freely available in cultivation.  This slender graceful tree has massed creamy-white flowers in clusters from Jan. to Nov. For those interested in gardening for wildlife it attracts a whole host of insects. Plant singly in small spaces or group together for a forested feel. It makes an attractive container plant and is ideal for small spaces and townhouse gardens.   It is used medicinally.  In North Africa the leaves are called Khat and are either brewed as tea or chewed as a stimulating narcotic drug.  Our South African form is only mildly narcotic. Size 2 to 7m : S.A. No. 404 - Price in 40litre container R595.00

Heritage Day

Indigenous plants are an integral part of our cultural heritage.  If you think of the many medicinal uses they have and which have been used for millennia.  Today they are also used in western medicine. 

In addition, they have many traditional and magical uses for everyday life of people - from brooms and toothbrushes to helping to heal a broken heart and protect you from life's hard times.

If you start to learn all of these uses your indigenous garden which is already multi-layered with beauty and wildlife now has added depth and interest.

We are open on Heritage day from 8.00 to 17.00 and for this day are offering discounts of 5% for purchases of R300.00 to R500.00 and 10% for all purchases over R500.00.

Flower Show

Remember the bulb society will be holding their annual flower show here at Random Harvest on Sat. 22nd from 9.00 to 14.00.  There are always really interesting plants on show.  They will also be selling some rare and unusual plants to help with funds for the society.

A wild and woolly sale

We have been cleaning the nursery and have some wild and woolly trees that we are selling at giveaway prices.  Bonsai enthusiasts will be able to scratch through them and find some interesting shapes or if you have a wild and woolly corner they could be used there.  The little trees are just R8.00 each.

Spring Time Creativity Workshops

Random Harvest is once again running creativity workshops during the October, government - school holidays. This is the opportunity for both Mum and child to have fun delving into paint, glue and sparkles while keeping in touch with nature.

The children and adult workshops will run simultaneously. Children age 5-10 will be making Christmas decorations - an angel, gift for the birds and a Christmas sun catcher.

Adults and teenagers with a taste for creativity will be making Christmas gift wrap and cards.
When:  Wednesday, 3 October
Time:  9-12am including a short break.
Where: Random Harvest, Muldersdrift
Cost: Children R60, Adults R90
Snack packs are available for the children at R25 each, however, these must be pre-ordered when booking for the workshop. Tea and a muffin can be pre-ordered for the adults for R25.00
Booking essential, Call David on 082-553-0598

What we have been up to

WESSA EcoSchools and HSBC Biodiversity garden planting.

Our Random Harvest Team has been really busy assisting with the planting of a biodiversity garden in 4 different Gauteng schools.

This has been a very exciting project to be involved in, and the planting team has been rewarded with real satisfaction at having beautified an area of the school and raised awareness in young learners of the nature they share their environment with.

In addition, a welcoming home has been provided for urban wildlife in the area.  It was great to see how these children enjoyed digging and planting, and one learner was even overheard saying that she wished this could be her own garden at home!

At one of the schools where the area was almost bare except for grass and bugweed, no sooner had we planted than a fiscal shrike swooped down into the little Puzzle Bush and settled in as if he had just been waiting for this place to perch.

Some of the plants that we chose, and we think should be included in any garden for wildlife, particularly here on the Highveld are:

  1. Puzzle Bush (Ehretia rigida) - for berries, good nesting sites and flowers that attract a myriad of insects and insect eating birds
  2. Gomphocarpus fruticosus (Milk Weed) - for the African Monarch Butterfly. It lays its eggs on this grassland plant and the caterpillars that eat the leaves, take in the toxins and are unpalatable to and other predators.
  3. Cotyledon orbiculata (Pig's Ear) - nectar bearing flowers last far into spring when many aloes have stopped flowering - valuable for sunbirds
  4. Gymnosporia buxifolia (Common Spike Thorn) - A thorny safe-haven for birds to nest in and flowers that provide nectar to many insects. Berries are also an important food source for birds and insects. Larval host plant to at least 2 butterfly species.

Empty plastic pot request: One of the schools is very interested in obtaining empty pots of all sizes. If people would like to recycle any old pots, Kwabhekilanga Secondary School would love to receive them.

They can bring them to the nursery and these will be sent on to the educator there, Patricia. These will be used to start up their own nursery in the school grounds.

They would like to propagate fruit trees, vegetables and plants from cuttings and seeds taken from their newly planted biodiversity garden, and sell these on to the Alexandra community to boost funds for their eco-projects at the school.

Cottage to let at Random Harvest

If you or anyone you know is looking for a beautiful cottage to rent we have this 2 bedroomed cottage vacant.  An opportunity to live on this beautiful farm with 24 hour security.

Please call my mom Rita on 083-302-7370 for more information.

On the Farm

The Schotia brachypetala (Weeping Boerbean) are in flower.  This is always a bonanza for the wildlife and the tree is humming with life. 

The Weavers become nectar sippers along with the sunbirds and a myriad of insects. 

The Weavers are not sure whether to make holes in the bottom of the flowers for the nectar or chase away rivals who also want the nectar.

The flowers are enhanced by the beautiful pink newly opened leaves. 

Some new shoots are red because they contain tannins that are unpalatable to wildlife, and so their beauty is actually a clever tactic to avoid being eaten. 

This tree is a sight to behold at the moment.

The Burchells Coucal started calling just 2 days before the rain came down in a deluge. 

I always think of the Burchells Coucal as the rain bird and this time he didn't let me down as we had 80mm in 12 hours. 

The furrows I made to take the water to the dam were like rivers 2m wide in some sections and filled the dam to almost overflowing.

There was such an influx of water that it loosened the Moorhen's nest from deep in between the stems of the Papyrus and it floated free. 

So this poor little bird was completely out of habitat.  Fortunately it floated back to the Papyrus and the nest is safe again.

We not only had rain but heaps of hail as well. 

Fortunately it was small and came down with a lot of rain so it didn't do much damage but almost buried some of the seedlings. 

There was so much hail that after 2 days there was still hail in the shady areas.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher has been very vocal and sits outside my bedroom window calling each morning.  Hopefully he finds a mate.

This Dove has made its nest in the orchid in the Calodendrum Capensis (Cape Chestnut) just outside my house.  Really cute!  A great opportunity for me to watch the development of the chicks.

Talking cute, our Bosvelder hen just hatched a whole clutch of babies.  They are so sweet.

If  you are curious about what all the construction is going on in front of the nursery - I am organising more parking and a place to keep the compost and fertiliser.

In closing I would like to remind you that I am more than happy to help with ideas for your garden. 

If you bring some pictures of your garden and measurements of the area you want to do I will help you.  Please make an appointment so I can put aside time for you.  This is a free service - all I expect is that you buy the plants from Random Harvest.

Enjoy being out in the garden with everything just bursting with life.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

For directions please go to our website www.rhn.co.za : or call 082-553-0598

Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Saturday, Closed Sundays

Cottages 072-562-3396 :  Nursery 082-553-0598


Directions from the N1

  • From the N1 take the Beyers Naude off ramp and travel north along Beyers Naude Drive.
  • From the Christian De Wet Road crossing (Northgate is towards your right) continue along Beyers Naude Drive for 8.2km.
  • If you are traveling along Christiaan De Wet Road, turn left or from Northumberland Ave. turn right into Beyers Naude Drive.
  • Using Garden World Nursery, which is on your right, as a landmark measure 1.8km to our turn-off.
  • Opposite Oakfield farm (which is well sign-posted) at Valdor Centre turn right into College Road.
  • Continue for 2.2.km keeping right and following the small directional signs to Random Harvest Nursery.
  • You will find us on the left.

Directions from the N14

  • From the N14 (Krugersdorp - Pretoria Highway) take the Randburg/Zwartkop offramp (NB Do not take the Randburg/Lanseria offramp if you are coming from Pretoria).
  • Turn left towards Johannesburg along the extension of Beyers Naude Drive.
  • Pass the turn-off to Diepsloot - Nooitgedacht
  • Take the next tar road to your left at Valdor Centre into College Road 
  • Follow the directional signs (See above).

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