Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2014

Posted On: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I am so happy as I am sure you all are with the plants sprouting and flowering – what a beautiful time of year. 

For me the excitement is the seeds starting to germinate. 

Even after 24 years I still find it miraculous and exciting.
The nursery is looking great. 

We had Elsa Pooley visit us, she is the author of ‘Wildflowers of KwaZulu Natal’ and ‘Trees of KwaZulu Natal’

She was so complimentary about the nursery and my staff, I felt really good about that, as it was a great validation.


Domestic Gardeners Course

The Domestic Gardener course run by The School of Garden Design at the nursery was a great hit with the students.  They all went home full of enthusiasm about what they were going to do in their employer’s gardens.  I think it was also a great investment in their futures.

They learned some theory, but the course is giving them mostly practical skills such as stripping an area, preparing the soil and planting.  They were also encouraged to use their creativity by working with rocks, driftwood and containers.

Our next Domestic Gardener training takes place on Friday, 24 October and bookings are already being received.

The dates of the upcoming courses are Friday 24th October and Friday 21st November and the cost will be R620.00 for the day including meals and the notes for both the gardener and the employer.  Each Gardener will receive a certificate from the School of Garden Design.

Booking is essential:  Please call David on 082-553-0598 or email him on [email protected] to book.

Garden Design & Maintenance Course

On that same weekend of 25 & 26 October, Lindsay Gray will present the last of her comprehensive introductory courses that are ideally suited to homeowners and anyone working in the industry that might want a refresher course or to brush up on certain skills. The next design course will only be held in March 2015,

Capitalise on the early summer months now and learn all you need to know about designing your own garden and making wise plant choices instead of waiting until next year.

Contact The School of Garden Design on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for prices and further details.

I thought I would just remind you of the following 2 events hosted by 2 Green Ladies – Heather and Gill

Garden Safari for Adults – the Ecology of the Garden

Date: Saturday 18th October, 2014  -  Time: 09h30 – 13h00 including tea
Cost: R125 per person including Tea on arrival and Tea and scones mid-morning.
Booking Essential: David: 082 553 0598  Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Time will be spent looking at freshwater ecology, grasslands and gardens, as well as soil ecology.  This is not an academic course, but rather a morning of discovery of nature’s smaller-scale wonders. 

It will include a short slide presentation and then a walk around Random Harvest, including the grasslands, compost heaps and ponds.

Children’s Birding Morning at Random Harvest

Encourage your children to be out in nature and learn about birds.  This could lead to a lifetime interest in being out in the veld enjoying our wonderful birds.
Date: Sat. 4 October 2014  -  Time: 7h30 for 08h00 to 10h00
Recommended age group: 10 years and up - Cost: R40.00
Booking Essential - David: 082 553 0598  Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Craft Demonstration

Joan Launspach, craft guru, will be holding a demonstration at Random Harvest. The demonstration will include Chalk Paint Techniques. This trendy craft will help you give tired furniture and other wooden objects a face lift.

It will include creating texture washes, shabby chic, crackle etc. The other craft being demonstration is on how to make wire rings. Each ring is unique and trending at the moment.
Date: 19th October 2014 Time: 11.30 Price: R100.00 per person including refreshments
Booking Essential: Call Joan on 083-326-5157

Natural Ponds and Water Features

My nephew Robert took these beautiful photographs of a busy Masked Weaver, which led me to thinking I should let you know what he does.

He builds amazing Natural Swimming Pool and Water features with birds and other wildlife in mind. 

They have areas for birds to bathe in and habitat for fish to breed and places for them to hide from predators.

To see some of his work visit his website www.waterbrothers.co.za .

Alternatively visit us at Random Harvest where you can see the water feature and natural pool he has built.

In The Nursery

We have been showcasing some of the lovely plants that are in flower in the nursery on our Facebook page.  It would be great if you ‘liked’ us on Facebook as we would like to build our following.

Plants that are looking good

Burchellia bubalina - Wild Pomegranate (E); Wildegranaat (A);
This beautiful small to medium sized, evergreen shrub thrives in shady conditions.  It blooms for a good 8 months of the year with beautiful tubular flowers that attract birds and insects.

Crinum bulbispermum Orange River Lily (E); Oranjerivierlelie (A);
This beautiful large deciduous bulb is really tough and grows in extremely cold conditions.  The tall robust, pink flowers are borne in spring.  They are beautiful planted amongst grasses, which is their natural habitat, but what I love is the movement of the grasses in the slightest breeze around these rigid huge flowers.

Drimiopsis maculata – Spotted Leaved Drimiopsis (E)
This beautiful small, deciduous bulbous plant with its beautiful spotted leaves and spikes of greenish white flowers is often overlooked.  Why?  I don’t know as it thrives in deep shade and requires very little water or care.

Calpurnia aurea - Calpurnia (E); Geelkeur (A). 
This lovely, evergreen large shrub or small tree is covered in yellow flowers at this time of year.  It attracts both insects and birds to the garden.  An ideal tree for a small space and it tolerates a lot of shade.

Nerine krigei This beautiful, deciduous bulb grows in the very coldest places on the Highveld.  It sprouts lovely twisted foliage in spring.  In October and November it bears spikes of beautiful pink flowers.  They make long lasting cut flowers although I must say I’d rather have them in my garden multiplying than sitting in a vase looking pretty for a short time. (Some people really look at the world weirdly).

I have planted Rothmannia globosa - September Bells (E); Septemberklokkies (A) as a sub-shrub under the big Paper Barks behind my office.  After years of trying to get them to grow I seem to have hit the Jackpot.  Low and behold these beautiful, fragrant flowers appeared.  Can you just imagine how happy Jeffrey and I are?  Unfortunately we only have a few in stock – so first come first served – sorry!

Another stunningly beautiful tree with deliciously fragrant white flowers is Turraea floribunda – Wild Honeysuckle Tree (E); Wildekanperfoelieboom (A);
This beautiful tree keeps its leaves all winter and in spring drops the leaves and is covered in white Honeysuckle type flowers that smell amazing.  These are followed by beautiful woody star-shaped pods and seeds that the birds find hard to resist.  This is a medium sized tree that can be used in smaller spaces.


All I seem to be talking about in this newsletter is fragrant plants.  Yet another is Gonioma kamassii - Kamassi (E); Kamassie (A) which is an ideal small tree for tiny spaces.  It is evergreen and keeps a neat and tidy shape.  In spring it bears clusters of white, wonderfully fragrant flowers.  It also makes a wonderful container plant that can be grown in the shade.

Jasminum stenolobum Wild Jasmine (E); Wildejasmyn (A);
The wild Jasmine is, once again, fragrant.  This beautiful climber is dense with beautifully large starry white flowers.  It has glossy evergreen leaves and can be pruned into a lovely dense shrub, trained up a trellis or planted in a container.  A versatile and beautiful plant. 

Tabernaemontana elegans - Toad Tree (E); Paddaboom (A);
The last of the fabulous fragrant trees for this newsletter is the Toad tree.  This beautifully shaped tree bears fragrant white flowers and then produces these unusual seed pods which split to reveal red seeds.  The common name comes from the raised corky dots like the skin of a toad.  Although it is a Lowveld tree it thrives in the gardens at Random Harvest.

Other News

New Staff Member - My friend, Mike Viviers, has come to work with us at Random Harvest.  He has unbelievable plant knowledge and is an amazing plant propagator so we hope to have lots of new interesting plants in the near future.  It is great for me to have someone as passionate as I am about plants to interact with. 

World Habitat Day - The first Monday of October has been designated World Habitat Day by the United Nations. We not only need to look after our own habitat but also create habitat for the other creatures that share our planet.

At Random Harvest we have 7 different habitat types.  This is reflected in the fact that we have over 150 birds on our bird list – more than most nature reserves.  Just goes to show the importance of habitat.

Try to create different types of habitat in your garden (they don’t need to be huge areas) and keep a list of what comes to visit.

My amazing staff - We had a huge order from Namibia and they sent two, thirty ton trucks to collect.  I would like to pay a tribute to my staff who loaded both these trucks in one day and sang and joked their way through this grueling day.  They are truly amazing and this is why I respect and love them so much.

Nesting logs - Our stock of nesting logs has arrived just in time for the Barbets to nest.  The logs make theBarbets lives a lot easier as they are easy to excavate.

On The Farm

We are trying a new product to control the flies. 

A lady who suggested that the flies were breeding in my compost heaps. 

She supplied me with biological controls, which I think are great. 

She has supplied a tiny parasitic wasp that preys on the grubs of flies. 

It does seem to have made a difference in the last two weeks. 

Hopefully this is a solution to the fly problems and as a bonus it is environmentally friendly.

The Erythrinas are looking absolutely amazing.  It looks as if the Erythrina latissima are going to have a bumper crop of flowers this year. 

Hopefully Jeff and William will do a better job of being their pollinator than what they did last year. 

The pink Erythrina is also looking amazing although not so many flowers this year.  

I am going to propagate them with cuttings and will hopefully have some for sale next year. 

In a nursery you have to be endlessly patient and think in terms of years. 

I sometimes think this job I love so much is penance for being impatient and wanting everything done yesterday. 

Plants are definitely a lesson in fortitude and patience.

How beautiful is this delicate little pink Moraea species?  We went on a plant rescue mission where they were going to strip mine coal. 

It was so botanically rich it really made me sad that we destroy so much in pursuit of money.

These bulbs came up amongst some grasses.  I did not even know we had collected it – it just popped up. 

Goes to show just how rich and diverse our grasslands are.

Another beautiful flower is this yellow Moraea huttonii which is blooming in our mother plants.  Hopefully in the next year or two we will have some for sale.

Talking about grasslands.  I have burnt the bottom of the farm as part of our program to improve and maintain the grassland. 

I am hoping soon to see the beautiful spring flowers popping up in the burnt area.  

This is always a good time to do some plant spotting in the grasslands.

We have had a few birthday parties in the Tea Garden.  They have all been a great success. 

Our catering abilities continue to go from strength to strength

This picture is of a 70th birthday party – everyone had a great time and my kitchen did exceptionally to manage the party and the busy tea garden. 

Well done to them.

We have a really clever Laughing Dove in the nursery.  We had a few doves dying with full crops. 

Although I know they are affected by a disease of the crop that kills them I thought they were eating too much as well as the seed was too easily available. 

I made blocks of seed so they have to work a little harder to be able to eat.  This did seem to solve some of the problem of the dying doves. 

This one in the picture is not going to let me get away with it he has taken to making holes in the bags of bird seed on the stand, resourceful if nothing else. 

I just hope he doesn’t show all his friends as I will then have to make another plan for my bird seed.

Talk about unusual. 

This Black Headed Heron has been hunting in the retail section of the nursery and in the garden. 

It is the first time I have seem them so close to the house and office.  I must say I loved having him around. 

Here he is sitting in the top of the Acacia karroo in the garden  with the wind ruffling his feathers.

I am happy to report that the hail that thundered down on us did little or no damage in the nursery. 

I just know we are protected here and I am very grateful for this. 

The best part is that the torm gave up 12mm of rain which made me really happy.

It is now the time of the year when I start watching the skies looking for the rain. 

Hopefully it is not too long in coming.

Happy gardening



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