Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - July 2016

Posted On: Friday, July 1, 2016

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I unfortunately had to go into hospital for a procedure and although I am feeling a lot better I have been out of action for a while. 

Heather very kindly agreed to write the newsletter as Jonathan is giving an interesting talk on succulents on the 9th and I wanted to give you at least a little advance notice.

Heather has been proof reading the newsletters for many years so I hope you will enjoy it.

A little note – Please Like us on Random Harvest on Facebook we are trying to increase our followers and in my old age I am learning to use Instagram and hope to send lots of pictures, too many to use on the newsletter. Random Harvest on Instagram Please join us here too.

Heather writes:

The nursery is so green and beautiful, that apart from a serious nip in the air at dawn and dusk, I have to pinch myself to believe it is actually winter. 

In some ways it is worrying, as our seasons are all mixed up, but in other ways I like to view it as a gift. This has been a particularly good winter for planting.

The gardens here (so far) have not suffered the ravages of winter.  You will also notice how many birds, butterflies and other creatures we have seen on the farm – it really has been a month of great informal bird watching.

As it is holiday time for many children for the most part of July, this is the perfect time to get out of the house and get some one-on-one time with them in the garden. 

I have just put an article "Seven reasons that Gardening is good for children" on our website to inspire you.

In The Nursery

Sprucing up the retail nursery

Plant display beds - For more than 20 years I have displayed my retail plants in the same way – behind a short edging border to make them look as if they are in a garden bed. 

I decided to listen to a long-time customer’s advice, and raised my plants a bit so that they are not so far down to pick up when browsing and buying.  

I think it has made a world of difference and when I asked Jeff what he thought, he simply said “the best!”

It’s going to be a fairly lengthy process, so over the next month or so that we are busy, please pop your head in the office and let us know what you think.

We have also been pruning the trees in the retail – what a difference it makes to the overall feeling of tidiness and light

Pond clean up – Our big retail pond really needed a clean as I haven’t done so in ages. We were just about to start, when Jeffrey happened to spot and photograph this beautiful Cape River Frog that has moved in and is happily singing away all day.

Needless to say - the pond cleaning exercise was delayed until we could find an alternative home for this little guy.

Our nursery is for the birds

It seems as if there are as many birds visiting the retail nursery as there are people.

The Aloes in the nursery are full of birds, including the Glossy starling, Black Collared Barbet and Black-eyed Bull-Bull, They really enjoy tucking in to the plentiful nectar of this beautiful Aloe marlothii

The Doves are becoming an integral part of the nursery entrance.  This drowsy Laughing Dove was sitting on the bench in the forest display, sunning itself and snoozing.

It’s been so cold lately in the early mornings that we see the Doves “defrosting” themselves in the sun when it’s still about 5 or 60C although the days are amazing.

We recently had a baby Go-Away-Bird (Grey Loerie) happily hopping around in the retail section.

The attentive parents sat on a nearby tree calling, and most probably guiding it to a safer place.


Not only the birds, but the butterflies also make full use of the plants that we stock in our retail nursery.  This lovely picture taken in our retail grassland display shows a XX butterfly emerging from its pupa or cocoon.

When you are next browsing in the nursery, please have a look at how beautiful the fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea) look against the crisp winter blue sky.

Another plant that is looking amazing at the moment is the winter flowering Kniphofia hybrid, just near the small pond in the retail nursery.


There are a number of new items that have recently been added to our shop . One of them is the collection of beautiful butterfly wall slates by Wiepke.  They certainly liven up a dull space with their bright colours.

I can’t believe that our crop of Chillies is still going strong and we have harvested them a number of times.  Refilwe should have lots of delicious chilli relish to sell in our shop soon.

I am always amazed at how the internet has changed our lives and access to information.

Pinterest is inspiring us at Random Harvest with some amazing ideas.

Look what Solomon managed to do with a few pieces of bamboo and some garden string.

We have planted it up with succulents and it looks gorgeous. 

We hope to be selling these in the near future. 

Keep an eye on our Facebook page to see when they are in stock.

Talk on Succulents by Jonathan Taylor


Date & Time: Saturday 9th July, 10h00 – 12h00
Cost: R85 per person including tea.
Booking essential: Call David on 082 553 0598 or [email protected]


Discover how to use succulents for their form, colour and texture, and as container plants. 

Jonathan will also talk about their care and some of the diseases and pests they get and how to treat them.

Plants Looking Good

Selago galpinii
– This pretty mauve flowered plant is a great addition to a rock garden or grassland garden. 

It needs plenty of sun and is sure to attract a whole host of interesting pollinating insects to the garden.  The butterflies seem to love it and can’t stay away.

Chlorophytum modestum- Small Chlorophytum (E); umathunga wehlathi omncane (Z)
A hardy, small, evergreen, tufted plant with short, strap-like leaves.  Spikes of shiny, white star-like flowers are borne from October to May.  Plant it in semi-shade or light shade, where it makes a useful groundcover. Ideal for under trees or between stepping stones.  It also makes a good container plant.

Mackaya bella - River Bells (E); Blouklokkiesbos (A); uzwathi (Z)
Hardy, evergreen shrub with dark green, glossy leaves.  It bears, magnificent bunches of lilac or white, trumpet-shaped flowers from early spring to November.  It grows in deep shade where the flowers seem to glow in the dark. It can tolerate a bit of morning sun provided it is watered well. Even though it gets frosted it will normally come back vigorously in spring. An excellent garden and container subject that needs regular pruning which also induces masses of flowers.

Chasmanthe floribunda – African Flag (E)

A hardy clump forming plant with lush green strap-shaped leaves and a long thin flowering stalk (up to almost a meter tall in perfect growing conditions).

The tubular flowers are orange with a tinge of yellow on the underside.

They prefer light shade to full sun, and well-drained soil.

Halleria elliptica (Robust form) - Rock Tree Fuchsia (E); Kinderbessie (A)
Hardy evergreen shrub, with very showy, orange-red, broadly tubular flowers in summer and winter.  The olive green foliage turns p urple in winter which contrasts beautifully with the orange-red flowers.  It then bears fleshy fruit.  The flowers and fruit attract birds and insects to the garden.  Makes a beautiful show when planted in groups in full sun or semi-shade.   Use this plant for a small but neat informal hedge or screen that should be pruned lightly and regularly.   It is also very showy planted in containers.  It is fairly drought resistant and should be planted in compost rich soil.

Sutera cordata - Trailing Phlox (E)
Hardy, evergreen, flat, creeping groundcover with attractive, round, bright little leaves.  It bears masses of small, starry white flowers that have an unmistakable yellows centre almost all year round.  A useful garden plant as it grows in sun or shade.  Use it as a groundcover or between stepping stones.  It also makes a stunning hanging basket and container plant but does need regular watering especially when growing in full sun.

Thunbergia alata (Pink) Black-eyed-Susan (E)
As it naturally grows on forest margins, this creeper enjoys semi-shade conditions. This beautiful pink form is not always readily available, but it is in stock at the moment and looking great.  How about growing this creeper over a frame as a little girl’s living tepee?

Cineraria saxifraga - Wild Cineraria (E)
A hardy, fast growing, evergreen groundcover with a rounded shape that roots as it goes.  It has pretty bright green almost round leaves with scalloped edges.  This pretty, delicate looking groundcover bears masses of small, yellow, daisy-like flowers from spring to autumn that attract tiny insects.  These tiny insects help feed lizards and frogs.  Ideal for hanging baskets and borders.  Grows well in semi-shade and sun.  Plant in well-drained soil.


Hermannia pinnata - Orange Hermannia (E); Poproos (A)
A Hardy, evergreen, drought resistant-flat growing groundcover with finely textured, light green foliage. It bears masses of wonderfully fragrant apricot coloured flowers in early summer.  Grows best in full sun or light shade.  Plant in well-drained soil in rockeries, herbaceous borders or tumbling over the edges of containers and retaining walls.  It also makes a gorgeous hanging basket.

Have a look at our website for the article on how to grow gorgeous Scilla natalensis bulbs.

On The Farm

Tea Garden

We have updated our menu in the tea garden – thank you so much for all the positive feedback we have received.

However…you can imagine my dismay and then laughter when William noticed that we were serving “savoury mice” instead of savoury mince! I can assure you that there are no mice in our delicious mince on toast.

One of our long-time customers recently enjoyed a surprise Birthday celebration which her friends organised in secret.  Our tea garden and the lovely weather made sure that she had a wonderful day.


Our Father’s Day gifts were a real hit. 

Ashley and Adele did an amazing job of the packaging, as I’m sure you will agree.

Meeting Venue - Dieticians Conference

We were delighted to receive a lovely review on Facebook by one of the ladies attending the Dieticians Conference a few weeks back.

Thank you Kailey van Heerden for this great compliment:

“I went for a conference at RHN last week and was very well looked after. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the food is divine. Even though it gets quite cold, there are fireplaces and heaters to sit around with a cup of coffee. Thank you for the lovely service”

We value the feedback greatly, and hope to have many more small groups using our meeting venue in the future.

Please contact David on 082 553 0598 or [email protected] for a quote.

Cottages Gardens - Lavender Tree cottage garden is almost finished and this is the beginning of our garden revamps for all our cottages.  We have focused on the aesthetics of each garden, in an effort to make your stay as beautiful as possible.


With all the gardening I have been doing I had to hire a chipper to turn the huge load of branches and garden clippings into mulch.

We include this in the compost that we sell, and it makes me feel really good that nothing goes to waste. Almost no organic waste leaves Random Harvest as we recycle wherever we can!

Whilst still talking about my beloved plants, doesn’t this picture of the Euphorbia ingens and windmill against the sun evoke a true feeling of Africa?

Just be aware that if you plant this in your own garden it needs plenty of space as it gets rather large!

Our succulents planted in the open ground are looking spectacular. They are full of flowers, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the Aloe arborescens is magnificent. Just a little water is always appreciated by these drought hardy plants to make them look their best through winter.

Although the Green Wood-Hoopoe has proved difficult to get a good photo of, Jeff managed to take a lovely picture of them in my garden. I love to listen to their cackling – just like their Zulu name suggests – “old woman laughing”.

It is not only the wild birds that we are enjoying at Random Harvest. We have now added three resident Turkeys near the dairy. They seem very happy and add to the lovely farm feel here.

The dam and grassland area have become a bird watching paradise of late.  There is a resident Stone Chat pair that make for lovely photographic opportunities for those doing our regular bird walks.

On one of my recent drives with Jeff, we were beside ourselves to have a rare sighting (and get a picture of) the Malachite kingfisher at the dam. I was very amused at how this tiny little bird, flitted around like he owned the place!

Some of the other birds we saw were the Cape Wagtail, the recently hatched Egyptian Goose babies, and the Moorhen.  On another day, Jeff and Ashley were lucky enough to see a Cormorant and the Thick Knee.


I was amazed to see the Vernonia oligocephala in flower so early. Perhaps it is the result of our late rains this year?  It is obviously a welcome source of nectar in the normally dry winter landscape, particularly for butterflies such as the Painted Lady and African Monarch. 

Another butterfly that we saw was what I think is an African Migrant (Catopsilia florella). Look how beautifully camouflaged it is on the leaves of the Peach tree.


Mike found this big black Rhino beetle in his cuttings section. Such a pity there were no kids around to see it.

The highlight of any of the workshops / events we do with kids is for them to dig in a pile of compost and find the great big, rather terrifying looking larvae of these beetles.

Last month I included a picture of what I thought was a Golden orb web spider in my newsletter. Lucky for me I have spider expert Astri Leroy receiving my newsletter.

Here is her note to me explaining that it is actually a Garden Orb Web spider. Thank you Astri, I love knowing the names of the special creatures that I share this precious space with.

"Love your newsletter as always!  It is a treat to find something so enthusiastic and up-beat in my inbox but that’s not a GOLDEN orb web spider (family Nephilidae) but a GARDEN orb web spider (Family Araneidae) - different family even and it’s not the common garden orb web spider but the banded garden orb web spider Argiope trifasciata.  Of course common names are often more confusing than enlightening and the names of these spiders often get confused."

As the days start to lengthen ever so slightly and the light changes, I hope you can spend some time savouring the wintry beauty of your garden for as long as possible.  We hope to see you soon in the Nursery.



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email [email protected]

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