Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - August 2013

Posted On: Thursday, August 1, 2013

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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast

I can't believe I am sitting here writing the August newsletter and spring is just around the corner.  One of the best things in the year is when the post fire plants start to bloom in the veld. 

I am willing to bet we will be seeing the Hypoxis hemerocallidea (African Potato) in flower in the next 2 weeks - this is the harbinger of spring. 

The other tree that reminds me that spring is on the way is the Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear) which has already started with its buds - amazing!

It is not only the plants that are showing signs of life but the birds are becoming more active and vocal.  Yesterday I saw a Masked Weaver starting to come into breeding plumage.  The Hoopoes and Guinea Fowl are very vocal at the moment as well.

I too seem to have caught a bit of "spring fever"!  We have been busy repairing, painting and sprucing up our buildings, and now have three extra loos for our customers. They are just behind our conference room block.

It's been a wonderful month of catching up with customers. I just love chatting to you all about your gardens, reminiscing about our past wilderness in and around Johannesburg, and hearing about exciting projects underway to rehabilitate or replant land in and around our city.  Thank you for popping in and please don't stop!


Part of my spring fever this year has been to clean out all my store rooms and boy did I find all sorts of interesting stuff not least of which was the assortment of lovely pebbles.  I decided to sell them off at just R35.00 per bag.

Plants looking their best at Random Harvest Nursery

The nursery is remarkably colourful for this time of year. Here are some of the plants that are looking particularly good.

Melianthus comosus (Feathery Touch-me-not) - it's literally shaking with the activity of Cape White-eyes. It is easy to miss the flowers, but look closely and these beautiful sprays of orange-red blooms are a sight to behold. Looking up into the branches is like being in another world. Osteospermum Hybrids - Starting to flower quite early this year. Somehow these plants always help to brighten up the garden with their many and varied colours.  Remember regular deadheading will keep them blooming for a long time. Tulbaghia simmleri (Sweet Garlic) - in full flower and the perfume as you get close to them is lovely - definitely not the garlic smell of Tulbaghia violacea (Garlic Flower).  These flowers also make good cut flowers.
Crassula multicava (Fairy Crassula) - is coming into flower.  The pink flowers are so delicate and so numerous that they brighten up shady areas at this time of year. The variegated purple is particularly beautiful with the pale flowers and red-purple under the leaves and of course the purple leaves add colour to a bed all year round. Dietes iridioides (Shade Dietes) - which is smaller than the well-known Dietes grandiflora and will grow in shade but has similar beautifully marked white and blue flowers. Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear) - As I mentioned are now in bud.  A beautiful tree to plant now and enjoy the beautiful blooms in early spring.  Remember not to overwater this beautiful tree, especially in winter, if you want the pleasure of the beautiful flowers in spring
Clivia miniata (Clivia) - flowering early, so this is a good time to put them in and make the most of their colourful blooms Eriocephalus africanus (Wild Rosemary) - not in flower but looking great. This is a rewarding, extremely hardy shrub for sunny areass. It makes a tasty alternative to the conventional rosemary in stews. Use the tender new shoots or if using woody sprigs, remember to remove twigs before eating. Halleria lucida - If you are looking for both a beautiful tree and a tree that will attract birds and butterflies to your garden this is the plant for you.  It is very interesting in that the flowers are borne on the old, hard wood.  I saw this huge tree in Knysna forest and could only tell it was a Halleria by the delicate flowers growing directly out of the main stem - amazing!

Floating pots are back in stock


August is a busy month at Random Harvest.

Women's Day

Friday, 9 August 2013
Treat the special woman in your life to a hearty breakfast at Random Harvest Tea Garden and receive a complimentary fruit juice and sparkling wine. She will also be treated to a free gift of a beautiful flowering Lachenalia.

Barbara Duke

Will be exhibiting her paintings at Random Harvest over the Woman's Day weekend - 9th - 11th August 2013. Barbara is a Fine Artist from Cape Town. She is academically qualified, a former High School Art Teacher and Freelance Artist, who is now retired.

The Exhibition is varied and includes indigenous flora (some unique to South Africa). Some works are oil paintings, and some are water-colours, varying in size and colours - promises to be interesting.

Bird Walk with Andre Marx

Saturday, 10th August 2013
Time: 06h45
Cost R95.00 per person including early morning rusks and coffee and a delicious breakfast after the walk.
Booking essential as space is limited.  Please call David on 082-553-0598

We are looking forward to another bird walk with Andre Marx of the North Gauteng Bird Club.

His knowledge of birds and their calls is astounding, and with a list of over 120 bird species at Random Harvest, you are sure to have a very rewarding morning.

Scarecrows and Seedlings Workshop for children

Date: Saturday, 10 August 2013
Time: 09h00 - 13h00
Cost: R180 per child
(best suited to 5yrs and up - parents welcome to tag along)
In one action packed morning you will: Prepare a vegetable garden, plant seeds, plant vegetable seedlings (to take home with you), make soup, create your own scarecrow and have so much fun you don't want to leave Random Harvest!
Booking essential as space is limited.  Please call David on 082-553-0598

Please help us:

If you have any very old, preferably no longer wearable children's clothing, we would love them for our scarecrow building workshop. Tops need to be long-sleeved and pants, preferably trousers or very long shorts. David will have a box at reception for you to pop them in.

Beastie Boxes and Pebble Bugs for children

Activity Morning
Date: Thursday 14 August 2013
Time: 09h00 - 13h00
Cost: R140 per child (best suited to children 6 to 12 yrs)
If your kids love to be outside then don't let them miss this super-fun morning. Build a big "Hotel for Minibeasts" - learning about many of the creatures that would use it, and how to make it as welcoming as possible!

At tea-time we show you how to build a campfire to roast marshmallows, and have hot chocolate. Get creative and make some pebble-bugs too.
Booking essential as space is limited.  Please call David on 082-553-0598

Introduction to Garden Design - weekend course

The next of these informative courses takes place on 14 & 15 September.

Enjoy the hospitality of the Random Harvest staff and the interactive, informative course content as you learn how to effectively plan your garden, choose and group plants, create a variety of habitats for wildlife and care for your garden.

Our last course was a huge success and we had such fun on our tour around the property.
If time permits, join us on Friday, 13 Sept (should we be worried?) for the add-on module on Sustainability and Biodiversity and what that means to the urban gardener - with Lindsay Gray and Tinus Oberholzer (who revised Pitta Joffe's book) - priced separately for your convenience.
Contact principal, Lindsay Gray, on 082 44 99 237 or email : [email protected]   website : www.schoolofgardendesign.com  Accommodation at Random Harvest Cottages.

We are collecting: Garden pots

We are starting an "old garden pots" bin.  If you have any unwanted pots then we can pass these on to schools that are planting their own vegetable and biodiversity gardens.

By potting seeds and cuttings from their gardens the schools can grow these to expand their gardens, start new gardens in the school or to spread the message of sustainable living into the community surrounding the school.

Many people do not have enough space to plant up a veggie garden or wildlife garden, or do not have access to enough water to sustain it. Planting in large pots can give a splash of useable green to any space, provided it gets at least a little sun and some water. 

Talking about planting sustainable gardens even in small spaces, I was watching an amazing video on YouTube.  It is one of the TED talks which are all about ideas that are worth spreading.

I am completely fascinated by what this guy from the Lincoln Reimagine Project has to say about food and sustainability and have added this link so you can enjoy it as well.

Branches and cuttings

If you have gone as pruning mad in your garden as I have and need somewhere to dump the tree pruning's and branches I would be really grateful to have them here at Random Harvest where I can chip them up for mulch which I am always short of. 

With spring around the corner, it is so tempting to urge the garden into greenness by watering excessively. Try to resist this temptation and enjoy that last of the winter weeks. 

Too much new growth puts a strain on plants to maintain them, and you will have to water even more to sustain these tender, thirsty shoots.


On the farm

Jeffrey saw this really big spider living in one of the tree tie pipes.  I asked Astri Leroy what is was and she replied as follows:

"It is a fat, hairy little rain spider. Judging its size by the end of the hose pipe, I'd guess it is either a young one or maybe it didn't get enough to eat before winter set in with its lack of decent-sized insect food, they get much bigger than that when adult."

And I thought it was a really big spider - just goes to show

The Aloe castanea (Cats Tail Aloe) are in full bloom and the birds are having a field day feeding on the reddish-brown nectar. 

If you stick a toothpick into the nectar and hold it up to the sun it shines red. 

Aren't our indigenous plants full of surprises? 

How beautiful are the flowers with their striped seed capsules and bright nectar - it really pays to take the time to take a close look at the plants.

The Cape White Eyes are so cute flitting around the flowers.

New visitors to our feeding table are the Red-billed Quelea. 

I wonder what is going to happen when they send a message to their flock down at the dam that there is free seed available?  I wonder if I will be able to afford to feed them if they converge on the table?

How strange it was to see this Red Toad hopping around on the paving outside the office in what is essentially mid-winter.

I would have thought that they were tucked away trying to keep warm.

The Fiscal Flycatchers have been out in the open foraging.  It is almost as if we have to say 'Good Morning' at the main gate every day as they hop around the golf cart foraging for insects.  They are often joined by the Cape Robin.  What a way to start your day.

There hasn't been much action around the dam this month but I thought it was interesting that there is still a Waterlily blooming even though the leaves have all but disappeared. 

The weather has been strange as even though the days have been mild we have had a lot of white frost and I would have thought the lilies on the dam would have gone dormant long ago.

I thought I would share this picture of the Sacred Ibis down at the dam with you. 

I think it has great atmosphere even if it is the really cold air that hangs over the dam in the mornings creating the mist besides the droplets of water they had just shaken off.

The light is definitely changing so enjoy the last few weeks of shadows playing in your garden before everything shoots new leaves and the whole garden changes once again in rhythm with the seasons.



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 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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