Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - February 2015

Posted On: Sunday, February 1, 2015

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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

On Sunday all day and especially at sundown the quality of the light was amazing. 

The colours in the sky were the colours of doves - that beautiful soft blue grey and light pink – wonderful. 

When the light starts to soften it reminds me that autumn is not far off – one of my favourite times of the year.

In the nursery

We have pulled the rocky succulent display apart much to the disgust of the Brown House Snake who was living in the mulch. 

We had to move him to a new home amongst the plants in the growing section.

We are busy replacing it with a grassland display as the grasses are looking really beautiful.

Luckily after many years I have got a few of our local grass Aloe (Aloe verecunda) growing and will be using them in the display.

We are trying to replicate a rocky grassland with a bush clump and stream and pan. 

You will be able to let us know if we succeeded when it is finished which, I hope, will be by the end of the week.

Over the Christmas period the customers who visited us seemed to have had a lot of fun. 

Many of them were photographing the hundreds of birds visiting the feeding station while the children enjoyed the vegetable growing activity and playing in the sandpit.

Urban Farm Display

The Urban Farm display is looking great and I am really enjoying the fruits of our labour. 

We have been picking and eating tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage and brinjals. 

I even made a cabbage and bread bake for the first time (Which is typical Italian peasant food) with our freshly picked cabbage, and it was just delicious.

I am now waiting for the mealies to ripen so I can enjoy them as well.

Waterwise Garden Display

This display is also developing beautifully.  Pay a visit and be inspired to save our precious water and still have a beautiful garden.

Bird Walk with Andre Marx

Andre has kindly agreed to do a few bird walks again.  Remember to book as soon as possible as these walks are always very popular.
DATES 21st February and 14th March   TIME 6h30 for 7h00
COST R95.00 including a slap up breakfast after the walk
Booking Essential:  Call David on 082-553-0598

Valentine’s Day – Saturday 14th February

Bring the ones you love along to Random Harvest to share some quality time and a delicious High Tea with you. 
Cost R110.00 per person.  Booking is essential please call David on 082-553-0598 to book
Not only will we be serving High Tea but for all the adults who visit there will be a little heart-shaped box filled with delicious caramel and dark chocolate coated almonds which are made here at Random Harvest.

Domestic Gardeners Course
Price R650
The next two course dates are the 27 February and 27th March
The domestic gardener’s courses will continue to be run here, in our conference venue, by Lindsay Grey. 
Some friends of mine sent their gardeners and have reported back that they have grown enormously in confidence and even their attitude to their job has changed since they understand why they are gardening.  I also sent a few of my chaps on the course, and they too gained a lot.
Booking is essential:  Please call David on 082-553-0598 to secure your gardener’s place.

Lindsay is also running the Introduction to Garden Design & Maintenance.  
Price of the two courses are as follows:
Workshop One (Saturday) R950   Workshop Two (Sunday) R1 150 - (attend one or both workshops)

Saturday - Covers the practical and creative aspects of garden design plus the four essential elements of good garden maintenance
Sunday -   You will learn how easy it is to draw an accurate plan of your garden, incorporating all of the essential requirements
28 February and 1 March : 28/29 March 
Booking is essential:  Please call Lindsay on 031-765-3434 or 082-449-9237 to secure your place.


Random Harvest Outreach

We have started a microbusiness with an amazing young man, Nakedi.  He is making the seed bells and floating pots that are for sale in the nursery.  So when you purchase either of these it will be good to know you are helping a hardworking and committed young man to make a living.

I always like buying things that have the added ‘feel good’ factor to them.


Bird Feeders

Another of the microbusiness we have helped to start and maintain is Clopas, the wire artist. 

He made all the decorations for our Christmas tree and has come up with some beautiful new designs, and are particularly lovely when the sunlight catches the colourful beads.

They can take pride of place in any bird feeding station.

Plants that are looking good


Lapeirousia sandersonii (Painted Petals)

This beautiful deciduous bulbous plant has a very apt common name as the petals are beautifully marked.

Plant in a grassland garden in amongst short grasses, in a container or in amongst some rocks for a natural effect.

Be careful not to overwater in winter.

Crinum moorei (Moore’s Crinum)

Unusually for a Crinum this species grows in deep shade under trees.

Its huge pink flowers are borne on long stalks up to 1m tall.

They look particularly beautiful planted in amongst the shade loving grasses such as Stipa dregeana.

As with most bulbs protect them from the horrible Amaryllis worm which, with Crinums, may make them look unsightly but will not kill them.

Plumbago auriculata (Plumbago)

Did you know this much loved beautiful shrub can be trained to climb up a trellis?

If you mix it with the Canary creeper (Senecio tamoides).

It makes a beautiful show of sky blue and golden flowers.

It can also be used to make a hedge. Prune regularly to keep in shape.

It is also a very important butterfly host plant.

Chlorophytum krookianum (Giant Chlorophytum)

This deciduous plant has attractive long strap-like, grey green leaves. The star shaped pure white flowers are carried all along a tall flowering stem that can reach 1.8m.

As you can see from the picture above, it looks beautiful when planted in the shade with Crinum moorei.

Indigofera frutescens (River Indigo)

This beautiful, semi deciduous tree is covered with spikes of pink and white flowers from October to March and looks particularly beautiful at this time of year.

It can be used in quite small gardens as a shade tree.

A long-flowering, beautiful addition to you garden that will attract lots of tiny insects, which, in turn, attract birds to the garden.

On the farm

I know I can go on about the grassland on the farm but it is my magical place that changes throughout the year.  Now after most of the flowers are over it is the time of the grasses. 

Why not visit and take a walk and see the changes for yourself? 

Next week Jeffrey is going to put out some logs to sit on, so you can enjoy the area more and contemplate the beauty of the grasslands.

About 6 years ago I made two outcrops of rock in the grassland and it took me until last year to plant them up (slack eh!). 

Anyway I planted them up with local plants and what happens, but we have black frost – talk about Murphy’s Law. 

I am pleased to report that although we lost some plants, many of them have done really well. 

This Ancylobotrys capensis (Wild Apricot) growing in its natural position amongst rocks may look a little non-descript now but when in flower and fruit it is a sight to behold. 

Hopefully next spring you will see pictures of it in full flower.

Also growing in amongst the rocks is (Rabbits Ears).  This should bear beautiful big pink paintbrush type flowers next year.

Another local plant in Cyphostemma lanigerum (Wild Grape) which will make the birds happy when it is in fruit.

Pride of place on the rocky outcrops has been reserved for Crinum graminicola (Grass Vlei Lily).  This bulb is virtually extinct on the Highveld because of development. 


We were lucky enough to be able to collect some from a site where they are going to strip mine (much to my disgust). 

The scary thing is that I estimate this bulb is over 100 years old.  But thankfully, there is now a colony happily thriving at Random Harvest.

I had to put another picture of a harmless Brown House Snake which scuttled out of the Birds Christmas Tree display when we took it down. 

They obviously like the moisture and humidity of the mulch we use.

The birds have moved on to our bird feeding station from the Christmas tree but not in the huge numbers that we had on the tree.

We are busy building a settling pond for the water from the laundry for the Bed and Breakfast. 

We will then be able to recycle the water especially as we are using environmentally friendly products to do our washing.

The Purple Heron is back at the dam feasting, along with the Cormorants and Pied Kingfisher, on my R3000.00 worth of Tilapia. 

I must say I am not sure if there are any left in the dam although I did make lots of place for the fish to hide in.

The Purple Heron will also feast on other fish, frogs and baby birds if they can get their beaks on them.

We were very excited as there were a flock of Abdims Stork flying around Random Harvest.  At the time there were a lot of locusts around and I am sure this is what attracted them.

I am happy to report after bemoaning the fact that I had not heard the Piet-my-vrou this season he did spend a few days calling although not as incessantly as is normal.  To replace him the Black Cuckoo and the Diederik Cuckoo have been busily calling.  I just love both of their calls.

I know it is not about the farm, but I added this picture of the ladies making cuttings.

We hope next year to have many new introductions of plants that have never before been seen in cultivation.

For all those plant mad people, my kind of people, this is going to be really exciting.

I was really happy to have my Pterocarpus rotundifolius (Round Leafed Teak) blooming this year.

I used to have a really beautiful big one which I loved going to look at, at dusk, as the beautiful golden flowers used to glow in the low light.

Then I did a really stupid thing.  I was busy building and offloaded a load of bricks below the tree.  The water pooled up against the bricks and I drowned my beautiful tree.  Do you have an idea how sad I was that I had not noticed?  I then battled for years to get another one.

Much to my delight I now have two of these beautiful trees on the farm, and I will be more diligent in caring for them.

I had a thought the other night.  Imagine if a million people in Johannesburg planted just 3 butterfly host plants for the locally occurring caterpillars to feed on.  If they also planted say 6 nectar plants to feed the adult butterflies throughout the year, Johannesburg could have about 10million butterflies flitting around!  What a joy that would be for the residents.

Just another of my pipe dreams.

An interesting little snippet about grasses.  Did you know that grass is the only plant that grows from the ground up?  All other plants grow from a growing tip up. 

This is because it has evolved to be grazed and burnt.  This is the reason you should cut your grass back once a year just before spring and clean out debris from the tufts.  This keeps your grasses healthy year after year.

If you are far away in another province or country, and don’t have the opportunity to visit very often, have a look at our Facebook page (and like us please) to keep up to date with new information on our website.  This year promises to have lots of interesting snippets for you.

Remember there is always something interesting to see, do and eat at Random Harvest and we look forward to seeing you here to spend some quality time with us.



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