Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - April 2016

Posted On: Friday, April 1, 2016


Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Nature is really miraculous!  Thankfully we have had some good rain after the extended dry period. 

The grassland at the bottom of the farm turned from being crisp, brown and sad looking into the magical world I am so in love with.  It is a veritable paradise at the moment, bursting with life.

Gillian Condy Art Exhibition

I am so excited to host an art exhibition by world renowned botanical artist Gillian Condy.  Her paintings are breathtakingly beautiful.

She will be exhibiting her beautiful artwork at Random Harvest Nursery from Saturday the 2nd of April, 2016 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.


Senior Citizens Weekly Tea Special

Our Pensioner's Special at Random Harvest Tea Garden is now operational, which means that every Wednesday, for only R30 pensioners can tuck into delicious home-baked scones with jam and cream and a steaming cup of tea or coffee.  Please just show the waiter your pensioner’s card to qualify for this discount.

We will also offer a 10% discount on all indigenous plants to our senior citizen visitors. Again, present your pensioner's card at the pay point when paying for your plants to qualify for this discount.

We are particularly accessible to those who battle with mobility, as there are no steps to access the nursery, and most parts of the Tea Garden.  In addition, we have a wheelchair and willing hands to help.

For more information please contact the nursery.

Workshop 16 April 2016 – When and How to Split (Divide) Flowering Bulbs


This is the perfect time of year to lift and store bulbs and split clump forming flowering plants and bulbs before winter.

Learn how to do this with Jonathan Taylor at Random Harvest Nursery. This morning workshop will be informative and done as a demonstration with plenty of time for questions and interaction from attendees.

There will also be a demonstration of how to plant up decorative pots with bulbs.

Date: Saturday, 16 April 2016
Time: 10h00 -12h00
Venue: Random Harvest Nursery Gazebo
Cost: R85.00 including tea and eats and a few bulbs to take home with you.
Bookings: David / Thabo on 082 553 0598 or [email protected]

Bird Walk

Andre Marx will be taking another bird walk on 23rd April.  We have been seeing Spoonbills, Little Sparrowhawk and Fork Tailed Drongo all quite unusual for Random Harvest.  Hopefully on this walk you will also be lucky enough to see them.

Date:  23rd April 6h30 for 7h00

Cost: R120.00 which includes coffee and homemade rusks on arrival and followed by breakfast.  You can choose between a Sunrise Breakfast (Bacon, Sausage eggs, tomato with toast, tea or coffee and jam or a Health breakfast of Muesli, homemade muffin, yoghurt, fresh fruit and tea or coffee)

Grassland Plant Display Area


The retail guys have put together a beautiful display of plants to use in a grassland.  Most of the species used in the display are also sold from around the display. 

If you are in the nursery early in the morning or late in the afternoon it is really beautiful to see the sun shining through the seed heads.

I also love watching how the breeze sways the delicate grasses. Have a look at our website for some inspiration on where to get started, in the following two articles.

10 reasons to create Indigenous Grasslands in the urban landscape
Plant a Grassland Garden with indigenous plants in 10 steps.

Also have a look at some of the grasses I have highlighted further on in this newsletter.


Public Holiday 27th April – Freedom Day

We are open on this day and for this day only we have a special on grass plugs.  We will have a selection of trays in the nursery and you can choose the plugs you want at just R5.00 each. 

This should help you get a grassland established in your garden or if you live on a plot a larger area for a reasonable cost.

Gardeners Courses

Lindsay Gray will continue with her ever popular and informative courses.

Domestic Gardeners
April 15th, May 20th and June 24th 2016
Tea and lunch are provided
Time: 8h00 to 16h30
Cost: R650.00
To book, contact Lindsay Gray, on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]
Website www.schoolofgardendesign.com


Lindsay teaches them about compost over and above all the other skills they will learn.

Introduction to Garden Design.
This will help to get over that initial overwhelming feeling when faced with a blank garden and not knowing where to start.
Dates: 21st and 22nd May

For more information contact Lindsay Gray, on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]
Website www.schoolofgardendesign.com


The ‘Butterfly Balcony Garden’ display has been a big hit with both the butterflies and the customers. 

This display has become a favourite place for this customer to sit.  A magical garden in a small space.

I was so happy to get this picture of an African Monarch butterfly who perched right next to the label I made. 

Proof that the butterflies also love the garden and appreciate the correct plants for them to carry on with their lifecycle.




The ‘Shady Forest Garden’ is also looking great and many of my customers are taking time out on the seat to just enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of the forest and to enjoy the beautiful plants around them. 

This picture is of Lionel – “Mr Bunny” taking the children on the Eco Easter Egg Hunt which has been both fun and educational for the children

Plants looking good

I decided this month to concentrate on plants that will help you create a beautiful grassland bed in your garden.  As you know this is my magical space with all the life in and around a grassland.  Further on in the newsletter I am going to share with you a few of the many interesting bugs that live in the grassland.

This selection of grasses can be used to create a beautiful grassland garden.  Aristida junciformis (Ngongoni Three Awn) and Melinus nerviglumis (Bristle Leaved Red Top) are really decorative and Panicum maximum (Guinea Grass) is irresistible to seed eating birds.  Panicum is also a very palatable grass for grazing animals.


This is a selection of some other plants that can be used in a grassland garden.

Asparagus laricinus (Bushveld Asparagus). This spiky shrubby Asparagus is an important element of a grassland.

It has wonderfully scented white flowers and fruits that are irresistible to birds.

Silene bellidoides. This interesting bushy perennial that grows in amongst the grasses has beautiful pure white flowers that only open in low light – on cloudy days and in the late afternoon. A good factor when you come home late in the evening to be able to see these white flowers glowing. They are also scented in the evening which means that they are moth pollinated although as you can see from this picture they are visited by many other insects as well.

Aloe fosteri (Fosters Aloe). The beautiful yellow, red and orange spikes above the grass is a sight to behold.

Not only this, but they will also be full of sunbirds feeding on the nectar.

Boophone disticha (Gifbol). This magnificent bulbous plant has a diagnostic fan of grey green leaves in amongst the grasses.

Its seed heads are the tumbleweeds one sees along fences.

It is heavily collected as a muthi plant.

Bulbine abyssinica (Bushy Bulbine). This lovely succulent plant will bloom for most of the year if you remove the dead flowers. It is beautiful planted in among grasses (its natural habitat) or en masse in a garden bed. Interestingly it resists fire and will be the only green thing left in a burned grassland.

Two other interesting and unusual plants
– 1 water plant and 1 succulent are also looking good at the moment.

Isolepis cernua (Fibreoptic Grass) is a tiny grass 10cm high that will grow either in water or in a normally irrigated garden. 

This dainty little plant is great as a border or even in containers.


Kleinia fulgens (Coral Senecio) has beautiful, complex coral coloured flowers. 

With its grey leaves it is also a wonderful foliage plant to help add colour and texture to a dry garden.

On the farm


The bird walk went down a treat and it is really rewarding to see some of my staff arrive early so they can join in. 

This is William and Sydney with Andre. 

Some of the interesting birds they saw were the Black Crowned Night Heron and Little Egret.

I had to add the picture of the birdwatchers at the halfway mark so you can see for yourself the transformation of the grassland from dry and desiccated to a wonderland of beautiful waving grasses – Magical.


I was really pleased I had built all the furrows to collect the runoff water from roofs of the office and my sheds as well as the water that runs off the paving.  With the rain we had there were torrents running into the dam which as you can see is looking really amazing.


Not only does it look beautiful but every fish eating bird in the area is feasting on the fish, frogs and tadpoles in the dam.




At any one time you can see up to 12 cormorants drying their wings.

I was also excited to see the White Faced Whistling Ducks on the dam which seem to prefer the deeper water (Boo hoo I didn’t take the camera with me so don’t have a picture to share with you)

There have been some exciting bird sightings.

Jeffrey saw this Little Sparrowhawk kill a dove right here in the parking area.

He completely ignored Jeff and continued with his meal.


This is not a good picture but an exciting bird – a Fork Tailed Drongo. 

We seldom see him here so I found it very exciting to watch him hawking insects from a Rhus pyroides.

Talk about exciting birds.  I heard a Fiery Necked Night Jar for the first time here a Random Harvest.  I woke up in the middle of the night only to be serenaded by this wonderful sound.  This has made me a really happy girl and I hope to hear him a lot more in the future.

Of course after the rain we just had to go down to the grassland to remove the horrible aliens that insist on growing. 

I only like to do this when it is wet so we don’t disturb the soil too much and create the perfect conditions for even more weeds to grow.


Jeffrey took this opportunity and walked in among the grasses and took some pictures of the insects that inhabit it.  Some of them are pretty scary looking like the robber fly.


This is just a small selection of the bugs that live in the grasslands.

They are joined by variety of tiny butterflies.


The butterfly pictured here is a Spotted Joker. 

Although it was in the grassland unfortunately he was perched on a Khaki Weed. 

This is the first time I have seen this butterfly at Random Harvest.


Great excitement when we found this hedgehog. 

This is the reason why I sent my staff walking through the grassland to check for creatures before we mow or burn the veld.

They are carefully moved to a safe place until we are finished with our management plan for the grassland.



It is really interesting to see that the Southern Red Bishops that visit the bird feeding station in the nursery are still in full breeding plumage. 

Even at the dam they are still displaying.  I think this is really late in the season but they seem determined to hatch multiple broods of babies this season.



Not only do we feed the birds at the feeding station but the bugs are also beginning to take advantage of the food we supply.

  I am totally happy with this as the more visitors we have the more I love it.

We also found this weird ‘fork tailed’ Gecko on the veranda of the office.  I can only surmise that he dropped his tail when he was attacked and this unusual fork grew in its place.


After the rain the sandpit in the nursery turned into the ‘Sand pool’.  I must say this was no problem for the children.  They had a ball.

I am just glad they didn’t have to climb into my car after their fun time in the ‘pool’

Luckily most of the moms had a change of clothes.

Another side effect of the rain was the millions of mushrooms that popped up in the cows paddocks.

There were a whole variety of species.  I have never seen so many mushrooms concentrated together before.

Unfortunately I don’t know enough about mushrooms to even think about cooking them so we just enjoyed seeing them.

The Plectranthus bed on the farm is looking colourful.  Not as big as last year as I replanted them in November but beautiful just the same.  A walk along the driveway should give you some inspiration on how to use them in the shade.

Jeffrey and I have been on a pruning mission.  It is so important to prune and shape your trees.  It keeps them healthy and looking good.

Just remember not to prune out ALL the dead wood and dead branches as many creatures depend on them for their homes and their food.  Remember the number of hole nesting birds in your garden is limited by the nesting opportunities that are offered.

Don’t miss Jill Condy’s art exhibition.  This is a rare opportunity to see her beautiful artworks and maybe spoil yourself with one.



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