Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2016

Posted On: Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Thank goodness the heat wave seems to have moved on and we are getting some rain.  What a welcome relief. 

When it is so dry, I know why I so love indigenous plants.  The plants and gardens are looking great and are no worse for the wear of having endured the heat and drought.


André Marx’ bird walks have become a real institution at Random Harvest Nursery.

We are so privileged to have this remarkably knowledgeable man leading groups on bird spotting walks around the farm on a regular basis.

To summarise, here are the salient details for the next walk:
Date: Saturday, 12 March, 2016
Time: 6h30 for 7h00

Cost: R130.00 per person and this includes coffee and homemade rusks on arrival and breakfast.  Breakfast will be a Sunrise Breakfast (Egg, Bacon, Sausage, Grilled Tomato, Toast and Jam) or Kickstart (Health breakfast)
To Book: Contact David or Thabo at our reception area on [email protected] or 082 553 0598

Please note that this particular bird walk is in aid of SARDA (South African Riding for the Disabled) – a local not-for-profit organisation that offers therapy through horse-riding for disabled members of society.  They do amazing work with lots of passion, and have equally amazing results. Have a look at their website www.sarda.co.za for more information on them.

For more information on these and other events please see the events calendar on the Random Harvest website.

Easter At Random Harvest - OPEN every day EXCEPT Good Friday (25 March)

There is a lot happening at the nursery over the Easter / April holiday period. 

Please note that we are CLOSED on Good Friday (25 March), but OPEN on Easter Saturday (26 March) & Easter Sunday (27 March) & Easter Monday (28 March)

Our Tea Garden will be offering Easter-time High Tea on Sunday 27th March and Monday 28th March.

On this long weekend treat yourself and your friends and family to a Delicious High Tea.  This includes 4 savoury and 4 sweet treats and tea and coffee.  The cost is R125.00 per person.

There will be 2 sittings per day one from 9h00 to 12h30 and the second sitting from 13h00 to 16h30.  If you book for the morning sitting please would you make sure you arrive early enough to be finished by 12h30.

Booking is essential – Please call David or Thabo on 082-553-0598

Easter Eco Treasure Hunt - 18th March to 3rd April

As has become customary in the nursery each Easter time, we will once again offer our popular Easter Eco Treasure Hunt between 18th March and 3rd April.  I love watching the kids discovering things about our plants and sometimes the tiny creatures that we share this space with. 

Bring your child / children along to complete the trail of interesting nature snippets, and when they are done, they can collect their prize. The treasure hunt is free of charge, but needs to be completed with answers filled in to collect the lovely prize.

Senior Citizens

March sees the start of our Pensioners’ special.  I am so excited as it has been something I have wanted to do for many years, and for one reason or another have not put into practice. 

Every Wednesday we will offer our delicious tea (or a cup of coffee) and scones to our senior visitors for only R30.00. All you will need to qualify for this is your pensioner’s card. 

Please show your card to our waiters, and if you are buying plants as well, please present it at the pay point to qualify for a 10% discount.  Please note that this discount applies to plants only.

Gillian Condy Art Exhibition

Award-winning botanical artist, Gillian Condy will be exhibiting her beautiful artwork at Random Harvest Nursery for the month of April. 

My late good friend, Charles Craib commissioned her to illustrate two of his books (Geophytic Pelargoniums (2001) and Grass Aloes in the South African Veld (2005) - we have 3 copies for sale).  She has also illustrated 13 sets of postage stamps for Botswana.

Gill’s botanical watercolours and prints will be on exhibition from Saturday the 2nd of April until the end of the month.

This is a great opportunity to view and purchase Gillian’s art, which is world renowned for its amazing richness of colour and detail.


Butterfly Container Garden

I wanted to remind you to take a look at ‘The Butterfly Balcony Garden’ when you visit us.  It is really settling in and looking beautiful. 

If you want to read more about it visit our website which has a more in depth article  “Create a Butterfly Balcony Garden” for great tips on how to use those small areas in your garden.




Forest Courtyard Garden



The courtyard forest garden has proved to be a huge hit with our customers, with weekends seeing people queuing to get in and have a closer look! 

If you would like a bit more information on how to create your own colourful shady garden (including a plant list), have a look at our article “Indigenous Shady Gardens – Beat the Greenhouse Effect”.

Some housekeeping rules:

No Picnicking

As I have seen a number of people picnicking on our grounds over the last few months, I thought it best to clarify that Random Harvest Nursery and Farm is not a picnic venue.

We have a number of events that we do, from time to time, include refreshment outside of the tea garden, but these are pre-planned, paid for events. These may have caused some visitors to think that picnics are acceptable in our lovely venue, but we unfortunately do not offer this facility.

Please note that our tea garden is well stocked with delicious items on the menu, and we have carefully placed our tea garden tables so you are able to enjoy an alfresco meal. 


For all the dog lovers who visit us I ask that you respect the condition we place on having you visit us with your dogs and that is that you please keep the dogs on a leash at all times.  

This is in deference to the other customers that visit us and to minimise the damage that dogs running loose cause in the nursery.

Please would you also stop the dogs from barking as it does disturb the other customers who come to enjoy the quiet of the nursery.

Wire Creatures

Clopas has once again outdone himself with the beautiful wire and bead creatures he has made for us.

They look beautiful as decorations or in your containers.


Plants Looking Good In The Nursery

Barleria repens ‘Purple Prince’ Small Bush Violet (E); Bosviooltjie (A)

This beautiful shrublet (30 to 50cm) has glossy leaves and beautiful big purple flowers.  It grows well in full sun or half day shade. 

It is quite contained and neat but could do with pruning once a year after flowering.  An attractive garden and container plant.

Dyschoriste thunbergiflora - Purple Dyschoriste. 

I know I have mentioned this shrub before but it is so beautiful at this time of year and on into winter I thought I just had to remind you of it.

It is quite a contained shrub (up 1.5m) that takes well to pruning so you can keep it the size you want.  It also makes a beautiful hedge.  

Galpinia transvaalica Wild Pride of India (E); Transvaalliguster (A);

This beautiful medium sized tree not only has pretty deliciously scented flowers en masse at this time of year but in spring the new leaves are bright red adding to the beauty of this glossy leaved tree.

It takes well to pruning and can be used as a hedge as well as a beautiful specimen tree. 

It even grows well in containers. 

Not to mention that it attracts a whole host of insects to the garden.

Gladiolus crassifolius Thick Leaved Gladiolus (E)

This is one of our Highveld grassland Gladiolus, and at last I have some in cultivation.

It is extremely hardy but is deciduous. 

The flowers poke their heads above the grass at about this time each year. 

A beautiful addition to your garden, giving you great pleasure each time it pops its head up.


Ruttyruspolia ‘Phyllis van Heerden’

This beautiful, hardy and very floriferous large shrub is a natural hybrid. 

It is very fast growing and should be pruned quite regularly to keep it in shape. 

It is well worth the effort as it bears masses of flowers that attract butterflies and other insects for most of the year.


On The Farm

I have so much to tell you about what has been happening around the farm and Jeff has been so busy with pictures I am not sure if I can show them all to you.

There are so many birds around at the moment many of them getting ready to migrate like this juvenile Barn Swallow, who is still changing plumage.  Luckily there are a lot of insects around so that all the youngsters can fatten up in preparation for their long journey north.

Amazingly the Blacksmith Lapwing (Plovers) have hatched a new lot of babies at this time of year.  Jeff took this picture today of the tiny youngster.

The Masked Weavers also seem to be confused, as they are building a new nest so late in the season. I wonder if they are responding to the late rains we have received?

I just love this picture of the Cape White Eyes.

They look so content and relaxed with each other – really cute!

How amazing is this bracket fungus which has lignified (turned into wood) to match the bark on the Rhus lancea it is growing on?  I for one, have never seen anything like this before.

The underside looks like a normal bracket fungus.

Nature is so amazing and full of surprises that I wonder how the people who never look around them survive and just how much of our beautiful, miraculous world they miss.

Aren’t we the lucky ones that we can see miracles all around us?

Talking of our beautiful world I had to share this picture of our magnificent sky.  When I see things like this it just fills my heart with joy and wonder.

This year we have seen a few snakes around the nursery.  Luckily all of them have been harmless.   Although not harmless to the rodents and frogs around them. 

Jonathan caught this beautiful quite large Brown House Snake.  We relocated him down to the grassland where he can live out his life in safety.

Luckily my staff have bought in to the fact that snakes are welcome at Random Harvest and will call Jonathan when they see one instead of just killing these useful creatures on sight.

An exciting snake that is living in the top shade house is this Short Snouted Sand snake.  His scientific name is Psammophis brevirotris.

We had it identified through a website and got 2 mails back that said how lucky we were to have them here and that they also reduce the chances of more venomous snakes such as Rinkhals.

Exciting times.

We have been busy working down at the dam.  In my wisdom I put a dead tree on the island that the small birds can’t perch on as the branches were just too thick.  Jeff and the guys went down to attach another dead branch with lots of perching places.

What a good job they did!  When they were done it looked quite natural, and the small birds just love their new perch.


For those of you who thought I had gone crazy leaving an alien tree growing on the dam wall….  there was method in my madness.  This Gleditsia triacanthos (Honey Locust) was left to grow big enough so that I could kill it and leave it as a dead tree for the birds.


We have now ring barked it and it is already almost dead and thus creating habitat for the birds.

I have also grown a lot of grasses from the seed collected on the farm this season.  This was done so that I can slowly kill all the Kikuyu grass growing there.

We have started with patches and hope over the next few years to get rid of all the Kikuyu in and around the dam and grassland.

While the guys were working down there Jeffrey had the opportunity to take a picture of this beautiful electric blue Swamp Bluet, a type of Damselfly.

Talking of the grassland I cannot believe the difference since we have had a little rain.  It has gone from being dry and desiccated back to my magical space with its beautiful flowers like this Pelargonium luridum and the many grasses with their lovely seed heads waving in the gentlest of breezes.

We have been busy with projects in the nursery as well.  The trees were shading the cutting houses so much that we were struggling with fungi so I decided to prune the trees to let some light in.

When I saw the heaps of wood building up I got really worried, but after turning all the pruned branches into mulch I relaxed in the realisation that the wood was simply being recycled into nutrients for the soil. I also got to see just how beautiful the trees now look after all the pruning.

After all the years of placing packets and weeds on the roads in the nursery the soil had built up so much I decided to remove it.

The amount of soil we took off of the roads was phenomenal. 

This will all be recycled back into the mix I make to grow my plants in. 

The added bonus is that I have gotten rid of the Kikuyu growing along my roads, and am busy replacing it with LM Lawn.


This frog has taken up residence in one of the fountains.  We have had to make provision for him to get in and out comfortably.


This Guttural Toad decided that my seedling pots were just the place for him.  Not good as he digs up the seedlings.  Luckily not too many.

This doesn’t pertain to the Vervet Monkey who has decided he loves Random Harvest but he is doing huge damage.  We are trying to trap him so he can be relocated safely.  Never a dull moment.  If any of our customers are experienced in this, we’d love your assistance.

Finally I would like to share a few pictures of some plants that are looking great on the farm.

How exquisite is this waterfall of Plumbago in the nursery?  It takes my breath away every time I drive past it.

I found this unusual Bauhinia natalensis in our hedge with both pink and white flowers.   We are going to try and propagate it by cuttings and hope to have some in the nursery in the next couple of years.

The Strychnos madagascariensis

Black Monkey-orange (E); Swartklapper (A) are full of these spectacular fruits.  They can be picked and used as decorations as they will last for at least 5 years and slowly turn a dark, glossy brown.

How beautiful is this Karomia speciosa in a pot?  At last Mike and Jonathan have managed to propagate some of them and we have a few for sale in the nursery.    A beautiful tree with long lasting colour.

I hope to see you in the nursery.



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