Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - May 2016

Posted On: Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Can you believe we are past the autumn equinox and on our way to mid-winter?  The weather has been so amazing especially as we have had a few little showers of rain which makes the air clear and fresh.

The veld is looking wonderful and, unbelievably, there are still flowers still peeping up through the grass.   I read this beautiful quote on grasslands in a cowboy book by Louis L’Amour of all places and just had to share it with you.

‘Have you seen the grass stretch away from you to the horizon?  Grass and nothing but grass except for flowers here and there and maybe the white of buffalo bones, but grass moving gentle under the long wind, moving like a restless sea with the hand of God upon it.’
This is how I feel about the grassland which is my magical, peaceful place.

In the Nursery

Mother’s Day

Spoil your Moms on Mother’s Day the 8th May with a visit to Random Harvest.  Maybe bring her along for a meal or tea and cake and enjoy our unique and peaceful atmosphere.

We will have a gift waiting for all the Moms to show our appreciation of their support throughout the year.

Pensioner’s day on a Wednesday

These days are taking off and I am always happy to see our senior citizens enjoying Random Harvest.  So – a big thank you to all who have taken advantage of the specials on offer.

Highveld Bulb Society

The Highveld Bulb Society will be hosting a talk by Francois Venter on the use of indigenous bulbs in traditional medicine. 

This promises to be a fascinating journey into the folklore and traditional uses of our bulbs. 

Refreshments will be served.
Date: Saturday May 7th   Time: 14h00   Where:  Random Harvest Nursery. 

Cost: No charge but a contribution to the Bulb Society would be appreciated.




Succulent Garden Display

The guys have built this beautiful succulent garden display.  The emphasis has been on the colours and textures of our beautiful succulents rather than the flowers.

They used a water feature to plant succulents in, to simulate water – I just love it.

Although the display is not huge it is fascinating.  When you visit take a little while to let its beauty talk to you.


Grassland Display

The grasslands are one of my favourite places and I hope this display will encourage you to fall in love with grasses and the amazing wildflowers and bulbs that grow in among them. 

Not to mention the host of wildlife that relies on the habitat that they create.

To see the grasses waving gently in the breeze and see the sun glowing through their beautiful seed heads is always a joy and food for the soul.



Remember to see the articles on creating a grassland in your garden on our website www.randomharvest.co.za

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

Shady Garden and Butterfly Balcony Garden Displays

These two displays are still looking great so if you need some inspiration please make sure to visit them as we will only still have them in the nursery for May.  We will then be doing other displays.

If there is a display you would like us to do to inspire our indigenous gardeners please let me know and we will try to accommodate your suggestions.

Lindsay Gray’s Courses - Domestic Gardeners Course

Lindsay will be holding one of her regular domestic gardener’s courses on May the 20th and June 24th.
Tea and lunch are provided
Time: 8h00 to 16h30
Cost: R680.00

Introduction to Garden Design
This interesting course will be held on May 21st and 22nd. 

For bookings and more information on the course please contact Lindsay directly.

Lindsay Gray, 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]Website www.schoolofgardendesign.com

In the Shop


As winter approaches it is time to give our gardens Agrisil to help prevent frost damage.

Agrisil has silica in it which the plant takes up.  Silica prevents the formation of ice crystals and this is what helps protect the plants.  I have used it in the nursery for the past 5 years and have had good results.

Seeds for a butterfly garden

At long last I have managed to get my seeds for a butterfly garden going.  It has been on the go for almost a year. 

Each container has a picture of the butterfly that the seeds will attract and contains seeds of the particular butterfly host plant that it needs to lay its eggs on and so provide food for their caterpillars.   There are also seeds for the nectar plants that will feed the adult butterfly as well as instructions on how to propagate the seeds.

I think that these tubes would also make lovely gifts for someone who is interested in the environment.


Plants looking good

There are so many plants that are looking amazing at the moment.  Here is just a taste of what some of them are.

Ruttya fruticosa
Jammy Mouth (E); Jêmbekkie (A)

Fairly hardy, evergreen, beautiful rounded shrub with glossy dark green foliage.  It bears unusual, exceptionally attractive two-lipped tubular orange or yellow flowers that have a shiny black in the throat.  It blooms from spring to late summer and attracts bees, birds and butterflies.  Plant in compost rich soil – it also tolerates slightly acidic soil.  Prune back after flowering to keep in shape.

Aloe arborescens 
Krantz Aloe (E); Kransaalwyn (A)
Large, very hardy, drought resistant, branched Aloe with narrow curved, bluish-grey leaves that form rosettes. Three to four flowering stems of orange or yellow flowers arise from each rosette and bloom all winter. An attractive Aloe, which provides food for sunbirds in winter as well as attracting insects and thus other birds. A magnificent sight when in flower. Although this Aloe is drought resistant it occurs naturally in high rainfall areas, making it an ideal garden plant. Plant in sun or semi shade. The leaf gel is used medicinally to treat cuts and burns.

Tecomaria capensis ‘Orange’
Cape-honeysuckles (E); Kaapse kanferfoelie (A); mpashile (V); umunyane (Z); umsilingi (X)
This hardy, fast growing, colourful, rambling shrub has attractive, bright green foliage. The beautiful, large spikes of funnel-shaped orange, yellow, bronze, salmon or red flowers are borne from early spring, throughout summer and into the winter.  They attract sunbirds, other nectar feeding birds, bees and butterflies to the garden.  This plant can be used as a screening plant, clipped into a formal hedge or simply used as a beautiful shrub.  It needs pruning back in winter to keep it looking at its best and to encourage flowering.  Plant in sun or semi-shade. 

Delosperma lydenbergense
Hardy, evergreen, prostrate, succulent groundcover.   Plant this flat spreading Vygie in sunny, dry areas of the garden.  Unusually for a Vygie the large, glistening, pinky-mauve flowers are borne almost all year round.  They attract butterflies and other insects to the garden.  Some of the leaves turn a maroon-red colour in winter, giving the plant a speckled, bicoloured appearance.  Good ground cover in rockeries or on embankments as they require very little care and grow equally well in sun or partial shade.  Do not overwater.

Babiana hypogea
Bobbejaanuintjie (A)
This very hardy, deciduous bulb has attractive pleated leaves.  It bears beautiful, large mauve flowers with pale yellow markings in summer and autumn.  The flowers are sweetly scented and borne at ground level.  The flowers attract insects to the garden.  This unusual bulb is seldom found in cultivation.  Plant in a grassland garden or in containers where beautiful arrangements of these bulbs interspersed with small rocks can be done.   Plant in well-drained soil.

Chondropetalum tectorum
Thatch Reed (E); Dekriet (A)
Very hardy, evergreen, clump forming, grass-like restio with thin dark green stems.  The new stems rise up in the centre of the plant and are very attractive with their nearly black sheaths. The brown flowers are borne in Mar and Apr.  (Male and female on separate plants therefore only the females bear seed).  Planted in full sun it makes an excellent form plant and garden subject.   It enjoys plenty of water and will grow well with “wet feet”.  Never cut the plant back but prune and clear the old, dead stems around the outside of the plant.


Bulb Workshop

The bulb workshop Jonathan ran was a huge success.  The customers that attended loved it and learned a lot.

This has encouraged me to start planning more hands on workshops.


If you have any suggestions on what you would like to know about gardening or propagating and growing plants please let me know and I will try and accommodate you.

The next workshop will be on 2nd July where we will be using succulents as container plants.

One of my customers used the Tea Garden as a venue for their Book Club Meeting.  Everyone seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought I would mention it in case any of you may have regular club meetings and would like to use Random Harvest as a venue.

You would be most welcome.

South African Landscapers Institute

S.A.L.I. had their most recent meeting here at Random Harvest.  They joined us for lunch and then Jeffrey and I took them on a tree walk through the nursery.

Hopefully we encouraged them to use only our beautiful indigenous trees and were able to show them some of the more unusual tree species of which we have mature specimens in the gardens.

My weird staff

I walk into the kitchen the other day to see Yolam, my chef, looking like an alien.

After I finished laughing at him – I saw that he even had his telephone on his ear and cling wrap holding it on and over his eyes.

When I asked what he was up to I was told he was cleaning onions and that this stopped the tears.

Really weird – sometimes I think you need to be weird to work here!

On the Farm

There are so many butterflies fluttering around Random Harvest at the moment it is absolutely amazing.  These photos are of just a few we have seen.  The grassland is also full of tiny butterflies flitting around the flowers and grasses.


We are always busy on the farm and one of the projects we are busy with is new mother plant beds for the water plants.

Hopefully this will help us keep up with the demand for water plants.

There are so many of the trees with berries on at the moment that the fruit eating birds are getting fat and sassy for winter.


It is amazing just how strong the beaks of some birds are.  As you can see from the picture they are eating the Ziziphus mucronata seeds which are so hard that I use a brick to break them open to get at the seeds inside.

Jeffrey tells me the coating around the seeds of Ziziphus are also delicious to eat.  Mind you my staff regularly feast on the seeds we collect.  An easy way of cleaning them.

Ziziphus Mucronata - Buffalo Thorn

Maytenus undata - Koko Tree

Euclea divonorum - Magic guarri


There are so many beautiful things to see in the nursery and gardens as the sun gets low in the sky. 

Like the glowing red spines of Euphorbia lydenburgensis (Lydenburg naboom). 

The sun shining on the grass seed heads are also particularly beautiful at this time of the year.



I have definitely gone gardening mad.  I have pulled my garden apart (probably about time as I have done no gardening in my own garden for more than 10 years. 

What precipitated this was that I was ashamed of it when taking the people from SALI around.


As usual when I start something it is like Pandora’s Box.  I now have to scrape down walls and paint and fix roofs and so it goes on and on.

I found this beautiful piece of wood that had been broken down in the jungle on this side of the garden – full of insects.

I also, after so many years plucked up the courage to cut down the huge Pyracantha in my garden. 

This is an alien but I have been loath to cut it as the birds love nesting in it.  I am now really pleased I did so and am going to replace it with two beautiful Markhamia zanzibarica (Bell Bean).

I will keep you posted on our progress.

Jeffrey took this picture of some of the trees of Random Harvest. 

It looks like a jungle – maybe Tarzan will pop his head up (another weird flight of fancy on my part).

This Terrapin was resolutely marching down to the dam through the grasses.  I am always amazed at just how far from water you see them.   They seem to be able to cover large distances.

We also got this lovely picture of a Terrapin clambering onto a log in the dam.  This is quite unusual as they normally plop into the water very quickly when you approach the dam.  Maybe they are starting to feel safe and comfortable.

There is a Red Knobbed Coot on the dam at the moment so Jeff and I decided to have some fun with him.  We played the call of the Coot to him from the Roberts App on my phone.  He was not amused and came right up to us to check on who was invading his territory.   Although his reaction was not as violent as that of a Dabchick when we played his call to him. 

There are still a whole host of fish eating birds around the dam obviously feasting on my fish and the frogs.

As long as I see them there I am happy as I take it that life in the dam is thriving.

On our regular drives around the farm, Jeff and kept seeing a wet patch which is no where near any pipes.

Jeff decided to investigate what was happening.  He found a broken pipe 100 meters from the wet patch which had been leaking into a mole tunnel.  Can you believe that?  I was totally amazed that such a tiny creature can dig such a tunnel. 

Nature is endlessly fascinating.  There are also some beautiful mushrooms around at the moment.  Watching them break down the old Casuarina stumps has bee fascinating.

I loved this flower arrangement of grasses and Ribbon Bush that Adele did for the tables at a function and thought I would share it with you.


The light is so amazing at this time of year and catches on all the beautiful intricate spider webs in the nursery.

The autumn light was also beautiful when we did the last bird walk.  Hopefully Andre will be able to schedule another one in June.

Enjoy this fantastic time of year and happy gardening.



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email [email protected]

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