Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - June 2016

Posted On: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

As I sit here writing this newsletter I find it hard to believe that we are only a few weeks away from mid-winter.

I thought I was crazy to visit my friend in Bloemfontein in winter but here I am sitting in a really beautiful indigenous garden with Guinea Fowl scratching and the sun catching the flowers of the Bulbine and other flowers.  Heaven!

In The Nursery

Public Holiday June 16th
We are open on Thursday 16th which is youth day.

Father’s Day – Sunday 19th June

For all the Dads who visit us on Father’s Day there will be a gift of a bag of bulbs which can be planted in the next month or so to give a gorgeous display in spring.  This little gift is in appreciation of the support we get throughout the year.

Why not come along and treat your fathers to a delicious breakfast in amongst the beautiful indigenous plants?

Getting rid of old Pesticides

I have found someone to dispose of old pesticides correctly for R25.00 per bottle.  If you would like to make use of the service we will be setting up a collection point and he will collect from Random Harvest.

This offer will only be open for the month of June. 

Pesticides are so difficult to get rid of so I think this is a golden opportunity to clear out all those revolting poisons that have accumulated over the years in a responsible fashion.

Cycad Permits

The moratorium on getting permits for your cycads is fast running out. If the stem diameter of your cycad is 15cm or more you need a permit.  Failing this the fines are severe.

I got a really nice gentleman Kevin to sort out my permits.  Nature Conservation has visited us and we should have our permits this week.

If you would like help obtaining the permits call Kevin on 083-450-6245.

Domestic Gardeners Course

The next Course will be on June 24th.  Please contact Lindsay Gray for full details and bookings.
Time: 8h00 to 16h30: Cost: R680.00
Lindsay Gray, 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]
Website www.schoolofgardendesign.com


New Stock of the beautiful life-like creatures is in. If you can’t have a real Guinea Fowl in your garden how about one of these.

Bulb Society Meeting

On Saturday, June 25th. At 2.00pm there will be a talk by Wilfred John Ascot on Crinums.  He is passionate about this truly beautiful genus of plants.  They have wondrous flowers and their ecology is interesting.

Everyone is welcome and tea and cake will be served.


Succulent Display



This display is still looking really good.  Succulents give the garden amazing texture and colour especially at this time of year when other plants are hunkering down for the winter.

The insects and sunbirds really appreciate the bounty their flowers offer and are really a life saver for them.

The Aloe ciliaris are looking particularly beautiful at the moment.  The best part is that this scrambling Aloe grows in the shade and for those of you who, like me, went mad planting trees in the garden they are a welcome addition to the shade garden.

Even the dove is enjoying sunning itself in the succulent garden.

Frost Damage Prevention

If you haven’t yet thought of covering your young trees maybe now is a good time to do so.  Our frost is usually in July and August but now is probably a good time to be conservative and cover them with frost cover.  We do have it in stock at the moment.

For those with really cold gardens you can water with Agrisil.  I have found this product amazing in helping to prevent frost damage to the plants.  It is a type of silica which the plants can take up and this helps retard the formation of icecrystals which is what damages the plant tissue.

I have given my plants a dressing of rock dust to strengthen them and a nice thick covering of mulch (8 to 10cm thick) to create a blanket on the soil and prevent the tiny roots from being damaged by cold.

Plants Looking Good


Cyrtanthus mackenii - Ifafa Lily (E); Ifafalelie (A)

This pretty little evergreen, bulbous plant grows in sun and semi shade.

There is a huge variation of colours and they come yellows, pinks, red and peach.

They make a beautiful border plant and are great as pretty container plants.

Felicia amelloides - Blue Marguerite (E)
This cheerful, delicate looking plant with its beautiful sky blue daisies is deceiving as it is really hardy and blooms almost all year round if you regularly dead head the plant.  It should not be over watered and prefers well-drained soil.

It offers food for butterflies and insects and keeps us smiling in our gardens as it is such a cheerful plant.

Carpobrotus muirii – Dwarf Sour Fig
This pretty spreading succulent bears masses of flowers and requires little care and attention. 

I personally prefer it to Carpobrotus edulis as it doesn’t get the dead bits in the centre as it spreads.  Each of these plants will spread about 1m diameter.


Othonna capensis – Othonna
This dainty spreading succulent groundcover with its pretty yellow daisy-like flowers is a favourite of insects and butterflies.  It can be used to cover a bank as an edge plant or even in a hanging basket.


Aloe castanea - Cat’s-tail Aloe (E), Katstertaalwyn (A)
This unusual Aloe with its bottle brush-type flowers makes a beautiful accent plant.  It has dark brown nectar which the birds love and also offers food for the bees in winter.


Aloe cryptopoda (wickensii) - Geelaalwyn (E)
Another lovely accent plant for the garden. 

This Aloe can have either red or yellow flowers and in some cases even bicoloured flowers. 

It looks particularly good planted in a container.


Aloe barberae (bainesii) - Tree Aloe (E)
This is a very large tree Aloe which makes a beautiful accent plant in bigger gardens. 

It you would like to have this beautiful plant in a small garden plant it in a container which will keep it to a controllable size.  I love the picture of the flowers against the winter sky.


Aloe hardyi - Penge Aloe (E)

We have a few of these rare and unusual Aloes. 

It is a cliff hanging plant and we have planted some of them up into hanging baskets which they seem to enjoy. 

They could be planted tumbling over a retaining wall or in a vertical wall.


On The Farm

I have been trying to find the time to tile the Kitchen in the tea garden for a while and have finally bitten the bullet and done it.  It looks amazing.


I also thought that as it is quite difficult to find a reliable contractor I would give you the number of Leon who has now done 2 jobs for me and been efficient and done a really good job for an affordable price.  He is Leon of Leo-sua Contractors Tel. no. 074-567-0538.

Talking of building – Jonathan designed and constructed this donkey to heat the water with a tiny fire which feeds into our system for sterilising the soil we use to plant seeds and cuttings.

It works really well and saves us a whole lot of electricity by preheating the water.

I must say that it seems to be working quite efficiently – Good work Jonathan.

Jonathan and Solomon surprised me by making this Garden Angel for my garden with recycled bits and pieces.  I am just looking for suitable bits of wood for the arms.  I love it!

It is the start of my garden makeover.



Talking of the good work Jonathan has been doing – the chillies he planted have been just loaded with fruit.  I have never seen such beautiful chillies.  We have been pickling and bottling them.

I was so excited to see this unusual moth, it is a Crimson Speckled Footman, something I have never seen before.  Luckily Jeffrey has the eagle eye to spot these things, I may have just driven past and not seen it at all.



Talking of moths this is the caterpillar of the Deaths Head Hawk Moth. 

I was watching David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities and there was a program on how this moth robs bee hives of honey. 

Apparently it makes a sound similar to the queen bee and this fools the workers and they don’t attack the moth. 

They just sit by while it sips their honey.

Nature is amazing!



We also saw this amazing green moth Basiothia medea (Small Verdant Hawk).

I have been driving Mike mad trying to identify these moths – a steep learning curve for all of us.


Wasn’t that rainy spell we had this month a real blessing?  We had 80mm – perfect to see us through winter.

Sometimes I think Random Harvest is the land of the weird….now I can confirm this!

My Mom made this raincoat for her Adenium so it didn’t get too wet and rot her plant. 

Very enterprising, I may have tried to cover the whole plant but not my Mom she only covered the important bit – the roots and allowed the rest of the plant to enjoy the rain.


The dam is looking beautiful and has been visited by an amazing variety of birds.  I saw a Giant Kingfisher for only the second time in my life at the dam.  Jeff and I nearly jumped out of our skins with excitement.

The Plovers have been enjoying the edges of the dam – perfect habitat for them.


We also saw Black Duck.  These ducks usually only inhabit streams and not still water like the dam.  I though it may have been that the dam was quite full after the rain.

Forgive the quality of the picture but this was a quick snapshot before they took off.


When driving down to the dam the grasses are looking magnificent with the low winter sun shining on them.

It is hard to believe just how dry and desiccated the grassland was at the beginning of summer when we had that heat wave and no rain.  How quickly nature regenerates herself?  It is such a blessing to live on a place where you can see the miracles of nature unfolding on a daily basis.

I see who the little devil is who is spreading the Syringa berries – it is the Black Collared Barbet!  I am not happy about him planting these alien seeds all over the place

It is always exciting when the Green Hoopoe decides to visit the bird feeding table in the nursery.

He comes to feast on the suet balls we put out.  I must say he is one of the most difficult birds to get a good picture of.

The creatures have been plentiful around the farm this month – and all of them very busy.

The bees are finding a bounty of food at the moment with all the plants that are blooming.  Just last month they were having a hard time finding enough food. 
These bees are on Crassula perfoliata.

Seeing a Golden Orbweb spider was another amazing moment. 

I haven’t  seen one for a few years. 

As you can see it caught a locust of which there seem to be more than normal in the grassland.

Jeff took this lovely picture of a Hover Fly visiting the flower of Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.

Trying to identify the weird insect sitting on the Deinbollia oblongifolia
(Dune Soapberry) has been a fruitless exercise.  I decided to just enjoy seeing it and not know what it is.  If you can identify it, please let us know – we’d love to find out what it is.

I loved this picture of a Skink hunting in Euphorbia caput-medusae.   He really seems to be at home hunting for insects that visit the flowers.

This little Gecko also made himself at home on thee Aloe leaf.  Waiting patiently for an insect to visit the flowers especially to make a meal for him.



There are so many butterflies in the nursery, visiting mainly the Vygie flowers, and in the grassland it would take a whole newsletter just to talk about them all.

This one is a Yellow Pansy.



The yellow Halleria lucida (Tree Fuchsia) has been phenomenally beautiful this year.  I have never seen the flowers carried in such abundance.  Not only is it a sight to behold but also an irresistible magnet to the many creatures that visit it.  The Sunbirds and White Eyes are ever present in amongst the bounty offered by this tree.  That is not to mention the vast array of insects that have gathered to partake of the feast.

As soon as the berries are ripe we will have a different lot of birds taking up residence to gorge themselves on the bounty offered by this tree.


The play of sunlight on the plants and leaves are breath-taking at this time of year. One of my favourite things is to pass by the back of the office and see how the sunlight makes the building look as if it is on fire.

The striped flowers on this Strelitzia juncea (Crane Flower) is simply the play of light between the leaves and flowers. Amazing

The light through the fan-shaped leaves of the Boophone disticha (Gifbol) is another beautiful sight that you will only see at this time of year when the sun is low.

There are so many other amazing happenings on the farm but this is all I have space for. Keep an eye on our Facebook page where we will be posting regularly the pictures that we simply don’t have space for in the newsletter.

Keep enjoying your garden even though it is only 3 weeks to mid-winter – Indigenous plants still look great at this time of the year. A visit to Random Harvest will confirm this as the nursery is looking wonderful.



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email [email protected]

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