Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2015

Posted On: Sunday, November 1, 2015

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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Well! Our 25th birthday celebrations are done and dusted, and all I can hope for is that the next 25 years will be as much fun and as good as the last 25.

In The Nursery

We are busy building our Christmas tree display – can you believe we are hurtling towards the end of 2015?

We have some interesting goodies in the shop for small Christmas presents.

Heather and I have written a booklet on how to encourage biodiversity in your garden taking into account the large and microscopic creatures that all work together towards a healthy, happy garden.

We have a good stock of the beautiful bird slates by Wiebke who has also made some lovely silk screened calendars for 2016.

Heather has put together a nature explorer’s kit for the children.  It is made up of a booklet, a magnifying glass and other equipment a true nature explorer will need when setting out on a garden safari.

There is also a selection of other interesting craft and handmade gifts which you could use as stocking fillers.

Frans is busy experimenting with new biscuits and chocolate truffles which we will have ready by the middle of November. Please chat to us if you would like us to put a custom-made hamper of these delicious treats together for you.


We will also have a range of Christmas Decorations for the Birds.  These beautiful sparkly decorations will entice the birds to the garden and give you some Christmas cheer as well.

A customer thought that the beads would scare the birds but this is just not so as you can see from the picture.  The birds even visit when the sun shines through the beads making them glow and sparkle in the sunlight.

Africa Yarona

We have decided to keep the exhibition of sculptures by this amazingly talented group for longer.  How they see what they want to create out of a rough stone with crude tools just amazes me.

I am so impressed by their talent and work that I have had to buy a few for myself.

Think about the difference you could make by giving your loved one a piece of beautiful art and at the same time help these hard working and creative people and their families.


Ryan will once again be giving his very interesting and informative workshop

Website & content marketing workshop
Date: Saturday 21st November 2015
Time: 09:00am – 12:00pm (3hrs)
Venue: Random Harvest Nursery
Cost: R280 (Includes Random Harvest mid-morning tea)
Bookings can be made by registering at www.thorntreemarketing.co.za/workshops

Learning about how to market and run a website has helped Random Harvest enormously.  After doing a course we changed the way we run our website and the difference has been significant.


Gardeners Courses

Lindsay Gray will be running her last courses for this year.

Friday, 20 November – Domestic Gardener Practical Training – Give your gardener the gift of knowledge. Enrol him in the last practical training session for 2015.

The domestic gardeners course recommences in February 2016, and the Domestic Gardener Advanced Training taking place in January 2016 – we will advise you of the dates.

Saturday/Sunday: 21/22 November – Enjoy a weekend (or one day) of garden inspiration. Learn how to plan, plant and care for your garden while summer is still upon us.

The Saturday workshop covers the practical, creative and maintenance aspects of designing and caring for your garden while the Sunday workshop will assist you to draw an accurate, yet simple plan to work from – no more mistakes, overplanting, exceeding your budget.

You will also learn some fabulous sketching skills to help communicate your ideas to others.

For both these courses, contact principal, Lindsay Gray, on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] or speak to David Valoyi at our nursery on [email protected] or 072 562 3396.

Gardening Tip:  Help your garden beat the heat.

The heat wave we have been experiencing is affecting both our water consumption and water bill as we try to keep the plants happy.

Water your plants after 3 in the afternoon, so that the soil stays moist overnight and gives the plants enough time to absorb the water they need.  If you water in the morning the water evaporates with the heat and the plants are not able to take up enough water to carry them through.

I have found that if I put a thin layer of compost (20mm) covered by a thick layer of mulch (50 to 80mm). This helps prevent evaporation and keeps the soil moist.

Just a little snippet.  Jeffrey has an indigenous garden at his house in Cosmo City which he planted about 5 years ago.  To date he has not watered his plants this season.  Who said indigenous plants are not great survivors and beautiful to boot.

Baby Changing Station

At last I have found a baby changing station that fits into the ladies toilet. 

Now there will be no more inconvenience for Moms who need a private area to see to their precious babies. 

There is even a large bin around the corner outside of the loos to pop full nappies into.

Plants Looking Good


The Thunbergia natalensis (Dwarf Thunbergia) are looking great this season.   This is a beautiful deciduous perennial plant for semi-shade and shade areas of the garden.  It makes a great addition to the garden and as a bonus will attract birds and insects as well.

We have a few Erythrina zeyheri (Plough Breaker) for sale. 

This beautiful plant with its spikes of brilliant red flowers and huge leaves is an underground tree found in our grasslands. 


An underground tree is a plant that is in the same genus as a normal woody tree e.g. Erythrina lysistemon.

This is a survival strategy against fires which occur regularly in its natural grassland habitat. 

The main parts of the tree are underground with what is essentially the branchlets at the tips of its crown above ground. 

It flowers, is pollinated and seeds and then retreats underground for winter and fire season.

The Brilliantasia subulugurica (Giant Salvia) is coming into bloom. 

This shade loving plant looks like a giant Plectranthus with big lush leaves and robust spikes of purple flowers.

It is another lovely addition to a shade garden which looks good all year round.  Firstly with its beautiful foliage and then its big spikes of flowers.

The Bauhinia bowkeri (Kei Bauhinia) are in full bloom with their beautiful big, pure white flowers. 

This is a huge sprawling shrub only suitable for a large garden.  If pruned and kept as a small tree, it can be used in a smaller garden.  When in bloom it is a sight to behold.

Prototulbaghia siebertii is a newly described genus and species.  This was found along seeps in the Leolo Mountains One to note for the discerning collectors and landscapers - this is probably the first time it is being offered in a nursery.

This dainty water loving plant is beautiful planted on the edges of small ponds.  It bears tiny purple buds which open into starry white flowers.

I know I probably mention Ochna serrulata (Mickey Mouse bush) every year when they are in flower and seed, but truly who can resist this beautiful shrub – the birds certainly can’t.  I am in competition with my feathered friends to get my share of the seeds.  I need to get up early in the morning to beat them to the fruit that have ripened overnight.

Another lovely tree that is in flower is the Ilex mitis (Cape Holly).  These delicate white flowers will turn into juicy red berries. 

Once again it will have to be an early start to beat the birds to the fruit. 

The joys of having a garden full of birds . . . and their favourite food.

Random Harvest’s Outreach for this Christmas

This year we are going to donate 200 hampers to the aged people in Krugersdorp area.  Many of them are living in dire poverty and we would like to give them some Christmas cheer.

If you would like to help us reach even more people we would really appreciate it if you could donate something off the following list.

Canned Peaches, packets of biscuits, packets of sweets, bottles of Oros, rice, jam, sugar, tea or coffee.  We will add hand cream and a glycerine soap as we have secured a really good deal for quality products.

If you would prefer to donate money please contact David on 072 562 3396 and he will give you the banking details.


On The Farm

I am happy to report that the Paradise Flycatchers are back. 

This year they arrived a week early so I didn’t have to stress that they might not come back.

Just to add to my joy, these cheerful little birds are investigating the White Pear (Apodytes dimidiata).

Perhaps I will be able to watch them raise their family from my patio. What a delight.

I have also heard my first Black cuckoo’s mournful call.  It is soooo-sad

It was such a thrill to have Braam van Wyk and Elsa Pooley visit and give their presentations.

Braam blew my mind about our grassland.  He told me that it is a rare piece of granitic grassland and that I should continue with my efforts to restore it.

When he told us that some of the grassland plants could be anything from decades to centuries old it made me think that humanity is completely thoughtless, just destroying everything in their their wake.

Some grassland plants are amongst the oldest living organisms on earth and we heedlessly just plough it up with no thought.

It makes me soooo-sad like the Black Cuckoo.

Did you know that a grassland will come back if it has been overgrazed but if ploughed or dug up it never returns to its former glory?  This is testament to how complex and delicate the balance beneath the soil is, and how we should do our best to maintain it with as little disturbance as possible.

Braam also complimented us on the diversity we offer and just how important our contribution is.

This link "Restoration of Grassland" will take you to an article that was written by Carol Knoll in the environmental magazine ‘Footprint Limited’ that we have posted on the web.



Elsa Pooley was also fascinating to listen to and she was just wonderful with my staff.

She taught us a huge amount and ignited interest in amongst some of them to which this was previously just a job.

A big thank you to her.

I thought I should share my story about the first seed I collected of the Erythrina acanthocarpa (Tamboekie Thorn) which I mentioned last month.

A friend of mine from Stutterheim in the Cape told me he knew where to collect some seed.  I drove all the way to Stutterheim to collect only to be told that we had to go back to Queenstown which we duly did. 

We searched for seed for half the day and managed to collect the grand total of 8 Seeds. 

I delivered him back to Stutterheim and then drove all the way home.  I was too scared to compute the cost of the seed and just decided to enjoy them.  These have to be the most expensive seeds ever.

The plants are now giving me a regular source of seed so it was all worth it, particularly the joy they give me each year when they bloom.

Butterflies are the ultimate chemists.  As you know butterflies are very particular about which plant they use as a host plant, to lay their eggs on.

Some years back there had been a debate amongst taxonomists about whether Ptaeroxylon obliquum (Sneezewood) belonged to its own family Ptaeroxylaceae or whether it belonged to the family Rutaceae (these are serious debates amongst taxonomists.)

One day Mike was sitting in the valley bushveld when he saw a Citrus Swallowtail which only uses Rutaceae (Citrus family) as its host plant. 

It landed on the Sneezewood, felt around with its front feet and rolled out its proboscis almost as if it was smelling the leaf and promptly laid its eggs under the leaf.  

What the butterfly proved in a few seconds was that it was indeed Rutaceae. 

It took more than a week to prove the same thing in a laboratory.

Isn’t nature just wonderful?

I was sitting on my veranda the other day and heard a strange sound.  When I looked up a female White Bellied Sunbird was trying to sip nectar from a beaded Aloe my staff had given me for a birthday present.

There are so many plants bearing fruit at the moment that the birds are spoilt for choice.

We are busy redoing the succulent area in the nursery.  It was quite a job to take it apart and do new pathways and edging.   The staff worked like Trojans and got it done in just three days.

I think it is looking great and has opened up the lovely rocky water feature we made.  The Doves are certainly enjoying the water feature in the succulent area now.  Hopefully it will also make your browsing and selecting process a bit easier in this area.

The bees seem to be moving around a lot to find new hives at the moment.

It’s amazing how when people hear the buzzing and see a swarm they panic.  I must say the bees are too busy looking for a new home to bother about us and Jeff and I have had fun following them to see where they make their new nest.

They have found a new home in a hollow tree.

I have had so many problems with my old tractors I eventually plucked up the courage to buy 2 new tractors – the first new ones since we started Random Harvest.

So it was out with the old and in with the new.  I am really excited about them and am certainly not missing the stresses of trying to keep the old ones running not to mention the money I am saving on repairs.  I am also sure this will make us more efficient.

I just had to share these pictures of Heather and Jeffrey with bottoms up.

They were concentrating so hard on taking pictures they didn’t even notice.

For years I have been trying to get seed of Trichodesma physalloides (Chocolate Bells) a wonderful long lived grassland plant.

I had a plant of this and everyone who walked past it picked a flower to ask me what it was and in the process of unwittingly deprived us of the seed.  Imagine my frustration.

You can then imagine my excitement when Jonathan and Mike managed to find some seeds.

I was even more excited when Mercy, who works in the seed section, brought me a whole tray of seed that had germinated. 

Hopefully we will have some for sale in the not too distant future.

The birds have been really active as it is their main breeding season.



Jeffrey got this lovely picture of a Thick Billed Weaver. 

We don’t see him here that often so I am hoping that they become regular visitors or even take up residence here.

The Pin Tailed Whydah is in his breeding plumage.

He has staked his claim on the bird feeding station but is getting increasingly frustrated as there are just too many birds for him to handle.  It is quite amusing to watch his efforts.

It is so nice to, once again, be woken up by the dawn chorus.


Even though it is so dry the plants are looking amazing and flowering better than ever as there is no rain to damage the flowers.

That being said I hope we get some rain soon.  In the meantime, water wisely and hope to see you in the nursery soon.

Happy gardening.



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email [email protected]

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