Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2011

Posted On: Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

How time flies! You can already feel the days shortening and the mornings are markedly chillier.  Not that it worries me when I am in my wonderful heated pool at 6.00am, exercising and just enjoying the birds - a brief interlude before the hubbub of work hits and the day begins.  It is still better than anyone else's job as the first thing I do is drive around the nursery with Jeffrey organizing the day.  Am I not the lucky one?

Spring in March

The weather is great so we decided to declare "Spring in March".  There are so many gorgeous, colourful plants just crying out for your attention.

Crocosmia aurea

Falling Stars (E), Vallende Sterretjies (A)
This beautiful plant for partial shade brightens up our days in autumn with its gorgeous flowers. 

Crocosmia aureaAt the moment the yellow ones are looking great. 

You may want to plant them for cut flowers although I personally prefer them in my garden. 

It is beautiful planted up with Anthericum saundersiae. Size up to 1.2m

Osteospermum hybrids

The cheerful flowers of these plants is normally a sign of spring, but some of the hybrids are looking great now, particularly the spider cream. 

These are great for a sunny area in a border or amongst other perennials in a mixed border. 
Size 30 to 50cm

Plectranthus species

Plectranthus species.

All of us have shady areas in our gardens and what better way to fill them than with Plectranthus species.  They are all starting to bloom now with their distinctive spikes of flowers to brighten up our days. 

There is a lot of choice with this species from flat groundcovers up to P. ecklonii that grows up to 1.2m.  The flowers are not only irresistible to us humans but to insects and butterflies as well.

Zantedeschia green goddess

Arums are a must for every garden and the variety 'Green Goddess' is no exception.  It is a robust plant that has large green and white flowers.  This is really an easy plant to grow and will grow in the garden, preferably in partial shade, or in a marshy area of the garden.  The flowers are also great in a vase.
Size up to 1m.

Chironia laxaChironia laxa

Although this delicate plant may not look its best in a bag - once it is in the ground it flourishes and forms a lovely rounded shrublet with exceptional pink star-shape d flowers.  Chironia are one of my favourite flowers.  They look wonderful planted en masse, or in a mixed border.

Leonotis leonorus - Wild DaggaLeonotis leonorus

Wild Dagga (E), Wildedagga (A),
I think the Sunbirds and insects are waiting in anticipation of the Wild Dagga coming into flower with their bounty of nectar.  They are also a burst of colour in our gardens.  Plant in full sun and remember when they are finished flowering to cut them back severely as the new shoots are what will give you flowers next year.

Thunbergia alata

Black-eyed Susan (E), Swartoognooi (A)
This crazy little creeper will give you a crazy amount of flowers for the larger part of the year.  The beautiful orange or yellow flowers with their dark centre just beg for attention.  This is another plant you should remember to cut back quite severely and it will bounce back with exuberance.

Impatiens hochstetterii

Customers who bought these last month have been back to buy a few more as it is so pretty in the shade and really easy to grow.

Bulbs and Annuals for Spring

plant nursery Johannesburg

We are awaiting our stock of spring bulbs which should arrive on about the 10th March.  Not only will we have the normal Freesias and Sparaxis but some unusual spring flowering bulbs as well.

There will not only be mixed packs of spring annuals but you will be able to buy the seeds separately as well depending on what you prefer.

When you buy your flowering plants remember the 3:1:5 fertiliser to encourage flowering.

Good news if you have been searching for:

Olinia emarginata (Mountain Hard Pear)

I have managed to source 9 of these exquisite trees in 40 litre containers.  If you have been waiting and searching, now is the time to treat yourself as these trees are notoriously difficult to propagate and are not often available for sale.

Alberta Magna (Natal Flame Tree)

There are also a few specimens of this magnificent tree available.  It makes a wonderful container plant but requires shade and protection from frost.  You will seldom see specimens like these for sale.


Our new stock of books has arrived for you to browse through.

Bird walk with Paul

If you missed the last walk and talk here is your opportunity to learn about watching and identifying birds by habitat.  My brother Paul is very knowledgeable on habitat and plants and you will find this a fascinating subject.

Date 12th March @ 7.00am.

Meet at the nursery for coffee and biscuits and then go for your walk.

There is no cost but booking is essential as space is limited.  Please call David on 082-553-0598 to book your space.

21st March Human Rights Day

We will be open on Monday the 21st and will be offering a delicious breakfast special.  Bacon, Eggs, Corn Flapjacks and a delicious piquant tomato sauce served with toast and homemade preserves for just R20.00.  Visit us and enjoy sitting under the trees being serenaded by the birds and contemplating nature.  We look forward to seeing you here.


I thought a nice addition to the newsletter would be something about herbs.  Herbs are fascinating and go well with your veggie garden.  My philosophy is that gardens should have food for the birds and food for the people.

Rosemary from the Herb Basket, who is very knowledgeable, has agreed to contribute and share her knowledge with us.  This month she has chosen Basil.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

A truly wonderful and well-loved aromatic annual herb and essential in tomato and Italian dishes. Basil likes plenty of sun and lots of water. Water regularly when hot, even in the early afternoon if very hot, but never late in the afternoon as Basil hates going to bed wet.

As Basil is an annual, its life span is just for the one season and to prolong leaf production, nip out the top growing points and flowering buds.  Once the plant is allowed to flower, the leaves become a little bitter and once the seeds have developed, the plant will die.  Basil cannot take the cold and once the overnight temperature reaches 5º the plant will turn black and die immediately.  It is possible to keep the basil going if you kept in a warm protected place.  If you have to have your basil goats cheese and tomato sandwich, another way to get the fresh taste of basil during winter is to grow your own micro-greens.  You harvest the young shoots or seedlings when small.  You will obviously need to sow seeds on a regular basis to have a continuous supply. 

Great for companion planting next to tomatoes to encourage growth and flavour.  In the kitchen, it's an ideal companion for aubergines, courgettes, tomato based dishes, salads, sweet peppers, eggs & chicken. I will only eat rice if flash fried basil leaves are added to the cooked rice.  Heat your oil and for seconds add basil leaves, they almost immediately crisp and need to be removed before burning. Medicinal:  Basil tea is a good remedy for travel sickness & stomach pains or as a mild sedative.
Below is a list of just some of the available Basils.  (Care needs to be taken if you are saving your own seeds when you have several of the different basils as they cross-pollinate very easily.)


Plant out in full sun.  Water regularly when hot.  Nip flowering stems to prolong leaf production. Harvest leaves regularly.
Genovese Basil (Ocimum basilicum cv 'compatto')
True dark green Italian basil.   Compact and hardy.  Excellent true flavour to use in Mediterranean dishes, salads, tomato based dishes and Pesto. 
Cinnamon Basil (Ocimum.b.'Cinnamon" )
Native to Mexico. Leaves flushed purple with pink flower, clear sweet cinnamon scent. Serve it with bean and pulse dishes, is particularly good in stir-fry dishes.
Lemon Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'citriodorum')
Clean lemon fragrance. Adds a wonderful flavor to chicken, fish,  pasta, tomato based dishes & salads.  Use in pot pourris for a refreshing fragrance.
Rubin Basil (Ocimum basilicum cv 'Rubin')
Dark purple leaved basil. Compact and hardy.  Not as flavored as other basils. Adds colour to herb salads  vinegars. Use in Mediterranean dishes, salads, tomato based dishes and Pesto. 
Thai Basil  (Ocimum basilicum sp.)
Pretty, purple tinged, green leafed basil.  Typical sweet basil taste with added anise flavor.  Popular Oriental flavoring.  Use in curries, salads tomato based dishes and vinegars.


Camphor Basil (Ocimum.b.Kilimandscharicum )

Perennial, Plant out in full sun. Pretty green leaved basil with white flowers. Nip flowering stems to prolong leaf production. For culinary use, it does not mix well with other herbs, but can be used sparingly in a grain salad.  Medicinal: Camphor Basil inhalant is used to relieve chest complaints and sinus headaches. It is an excellent coolant for skin irritations

plant nursery Johannesburgplant nursery JohannesburgOn The Farm

In the beginning of February some Bulbul babies hatched out in one of the Lavender Trees growing in a bag.  It was great for viewing the nest and as you can see Jeffrey took some great pictures.

Amazingly enough on of the parents pretended to be hurt when Jeff went near the nest (I have only seen Plovers doing this before) to try and distract him.  Surprisingly even other species of birds as well as the Bulbuls sat in the tree shouting abuse at him, trying to distract him.

Jeffrey took a series of pictures and watched these demanding babies from when they hatched until they left the nest.

plant nursery JohannesburgTalking of demanding babies the Grey Headed Sparrows have hatched out their third set of babies this season.  If you think human babies are demanding - try being shouted at all day for food by a nest full of baby sparrows.  I feel really sorry for the parents who are running themselves ragged trying to keep up with their babies appetites.

There have been a lot of insects around.  How is this beautiful picture of locusts on Asparagus laricinus (Katdoring) that Jeff took on his wanders around the farm?

Talking of insects I was so pleased to see a scorpion in my shower (I know I am weird, it also doesn't mean I am not afraid of them). 

I have not seen a scorpion for years so was really pleased to see that they are around.

An update on the saga of trying to keep the Red Chested Cuckoo away from my mom's bedroom window.

I was sitting peacefully on my verandah when the 'Cuckoo Chorus' started. 

It started "'Piet-my-vrou (Red Chested Cuckoo)", "I am so saaaad" (Black Cuckoo) and "die…die…diederik" (Diederik Cuckoo) and then thunk crash and the Cuckoo chorus started again with its "Piet-my-vrou", "I am so saaaad" and "die…die…diederik". 

The thunking and crashing was the security trying to chase them from my mom's window by throwing stones at them. 

plant nursery JohannesburgEventually I was sitting killing myself with laughter as I could just see the Cuckoos teasing the security and them being frustrated in their efforts to give my mom a peaceful night's sleep.

I was so pleased to have a flower on my Crinum graminicola for the first time this year. 

These beautiful Highveld grassland bulbs are getting really scarce from being destroyed by development - this made it particularly exciting for me to see that my chances of establishing the colony on Random Harvest could become a reality.

The White Pear (Apodytes dimidiata) proved to me once again this year why I love it so much.  The tree was in full flower and I heard this buzzing and thought the bees were swarming, but this was not so. 

plant nursery Johannesburg

In the early morning with the sun shining on the flowers the fragrance was amazing and the bees were busy collecting the bounty offered by the flowers.  When the sun moved away from the flowers the fragrance became very faint and the bees moved onto different plants.  This same thing happened day after day until the flowers were finished.

Hope to see you soon at Random Harvest.  In the meantime enjoy this wonderful weather we have been having.



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

Hours of business Monday to Saturday 8.00 to 17.00.  Closed on Sundays.


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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