Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - August 2016

Posted On: Monday, August 1, 2016

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I am sitting on the coldest day of the year, so far, writing to you.  I would firstly like to thank everyone for their good wishes.  I am happy to report that I am feeling better and more energetic than I have felt for years.

Before I went into hospital I started refurbishing the whole retail nursery.

Four days later, when I came home, my staff had worked like Trojans to get almost three quarters of the work done to surprise me (I thought the job would take six weeks).

I would like to pay tribute to them and their commitment to me and to Random Harvest.

I gave them a braai to thank them and shocked even myself when I realised how many jobs we provide – I have 64 people working in the nursery and on the farm.

Mike, Henry and Jonathan did a sterling job of feeding them all.

We have also upgraded the area of the tea garden where one sits under the trees with this little rock faced retaining wall.

I am quite happy with it as it demarcates the area better.

In The Nursery

Propagation workshop 1: Seed propagation.
Saturday, 10 September 2016
10h30 – 12h30
Cost: R85 per person including light refreshments
Booking essential: Call David on 082 553 0598 / 011 957 5354 or email [email protected]

This informative workshop gives comprehensive guidelines on how to grow indigenous plants from seed.

Jonathan Taylor, our propagation specialist shares his knowledge about how to select seeds (telling if viable or not - roughly), types of seed, growing medium and containers (including preparation of these), and tips and techniques for sowing seed.

He will also talk about harvesting, storing and cleaning seeds.

Propagation workshop 2: Propagation from Cuttings
Saturday, 17 September 2016
10h30 – 12h30
Cost: R85 per person including light refreshment
Booking essential: Call David on 082 553 0598 / 011 957 5354 or email [email protected]

This informative workshop gives comprehensive guidelines on how to grow indigenous plants from cuttings. Mike Viviers is our resident plant propagation specialist, and has years of experience to draw from.

His workshop will cover how to select good material for cuttings, types of cuttings, tips and techniques of making cuttings. He will also talk about soil and container choice and preparation, as well as rooting hormone powders and other helpful products.

Rosina and Dakalo are so proud of their cuttings and baby them along in the hot house.

Bulb Society 14:00 on 27th August

Jonathan will give a talk at the Bulb Society meeting at 14:00 on 27th August named ‘Preparing your bulbs for spring’. This practical demonstration will cover splitting, repotting and feeding. He will also demonstrate how to grow bulbs from seed and how to display them in containers.

There is no cost to paid up members or people who join the Bulb Society on the day. To other interested guests the cost will be R50.00 this includes tea or coffee and scones.

Women’s Day – Tuesday 9th August

We are open and there will be a small gift of appreciation for all our lady customers.

We will also be offering a breakfast special and 2 new cakes on this day.

Here is a little saying to brighten your day
‘My husband said if I buy any more perennials he would leave me.

Hope to see you on the 9th – a great time of year to start gardening in earnest again.

If you prefer the quieter moments in our Tea Garden, Mondays and Tuesdays are the perfect days to savour the bird song and bask in the patches of sunshine with a cup of steaming hot coffee and a delicious treat to accompany it.

Children's competition on Facebook

We had great response to our blog on why gardening is good for children. Visit our website to view the article. Hyperlink

This was linked to a competition on our Facebook (Hyperlink?) page which closed on the 28th July, thank you to all who participated and shared our link with friends – we had a wonderful response

If you would like to spend more time with your children in the garden why not treat them to a ‘Nature Explorers Kit’ which we have made up and sell in the shop? It provides vital knowledge and hours of fun.

In the Shop

We have some interesting new products in our quirky little shop.

Beautiful etched cheese boards and wooden spoons, embroidered dish cloths, butterfly garden seeds and many more interesting bits and pieces.

We also have a new book stocked in our gift shop.

“Flowers of Verloren Valei” is a field guide to the indigenous wild orchids and selected flowers of Verloren Valei Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga. Verloren Valei is a RAMSAR Wetland Site.

The book has been compiled by Gerrit van Ede, it covers 180 plants, including 66 orchids. Each plant includes a comprehensive description and fine photographs. I only have 10 copies for now, so please don't delay if you want to purchase one.

Take a little time to browse the shop next time you visit us.

Plants Looking Great

We are busy setting up an Indigenous Plant Finder on our website which I am absolutely thrilled with and hope it will become a valuable resource for gardeners and landscapers.

In the plant section of this newsletter I have added 2 trees with a link to their description Plant Finder. I would really value any feedback you can give me.

The trees are:

Euclea crispa
Blue Guarri (E); Bloughwarrie (A); mutangule-nyele (V); motlhaletsogane (Tsw); umshekisane (Z)

Faidherbia albida
Ana tree (E), Anaboom (A), umHlalankwazi (Z)

Buddleja auriculata - Eared Sagewood (E); Treursalie (A); utile (X)

This hardy, large shrub blooms in the middle of winter and along with the flowers comes their amazing. This in turn attracts butterflies and sunbirds to the garden.

Prune back quite severely after flowering to keep in shape and ensure mass flowering in the next season.

Portulacaria afra Porkbush (E); Spekboom (A); tshilepwete (V); isambilane (Z)

It is said that Portulacaria is one of the best trees for carbon fixing. As with most succulents it is waterwise and easy to grow.

This versatile and useful large shrub or small tree can be grown as a lovely formal trimmed hedge. It also grows well in containers. Grows in sun or shade.

Hypericum revolutum - Curry Bush (E); Kerriebos (A)

The graceful arching branches of this shrub carry neatly arranged, large cheerful, bright yellow flowers almost all year round. After rain it gives off a distinct curry scent.

Plant in well composted soil in sun or semi shade and be sure to give it enough moisture for best results.

Prune regularly to keep in shape.

Eumorphia prostrata - Silver cloud (E)

This mounding shrub with its beautiful soft silver foliage has the perfect common name ‘Silver Cloud’. The leaves add contrast and texture to a sunny spot in the garden. The added bonus are the pretty white flowers.

It requires well drained soil and should not be over watered

Delosperma echinatum - Pickle Plant (E)
The common name Pickle Plant is very apt for this succulent as it has barrel shaped short leaves with white bristly hairs which reminds one of a tiny pickle.

It bears small bright, glistening yellow flowers.

Plant in well-drained soil and do not over water.

Lampranthus aureus - Orange Vygie (E); Oranje Vygie (A)
The large glistening orange flowers with a pale yellow centres are really beautiful and stand out in the garden. Plant in well drained soil in amongst rocks or even in containers. It attracts numerous insects and butterflies to the garden.

Prune lightly after flowering to keep in shape.

Ten Great Indigenous Plants to for Children to plant.

In keeping with our foray into the information age we have put another interesting article on ‘Ten great indigenous plants for Children's Gardens’ on our website.

On The Farm

The weather has been really weird this winter with real winter only arriving now.

Many of the plants seem confused as to whether it is winter or spring.

The Wild Pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) are full of buds already. None of them have opened yet but at the hint of warmer weather I am sure they are going to burst into bloom.

The Mickey Mouse Bushes (Ochna serrulata) are definitely confused as they are starting to flower at least a month earlier than normal.


Talking of weird weather, where do we get rain and even hail in July?

We had lots of tiny hailstones cover the nursery.

Here the seedlings of Aristea ecklonii are happily peeping through their blanket of hail.

Luckily we did not have much damage as the hailstones were tiny.

The grasses in the grassland were so tall and thick I decided for safety’s sake to cut the grass before we had a huge fire with the amount of fuel there was.

Of course the mower is a lethal weapon for any wildlife that might be lurking in the grassland so I have my staff walk in front of the tractor to make sure there is nothing in the way and to move anything there is before the tractor gets to it.

Some of the grass was good enough for fodder for my Mom’s cows and as we heard the rain was coming we had to get it into storage before the downpour. So we raked and made a train of trailers for the tractor to pull to get into the shed. My Mom was so excited she had to share this picture with everyone.

I, also, just had to take this picture of the grasses before they were cut.

It always amazes me when people say grass is drab and brown.

As you can see from the picture their pinks, browns and beiges looked truly beautiful bending in the breeze.


The birds have also been busy this season with this tiny Malachite Kingfisher taking up residence at the dam.

It was one of the more exciting birds seen on the bird walk.

They actually saw 47 species of birds on this walk.

Another exciting one at the dam was the Spoonbill.

A picture doesn’t convey just how big this bird is.

He has a really unusual beak.

There have been a whole group of them at the dam for the past 3 weeks.

We were also visited by the neat and pretty Yellow Billed Ducks.

Another interesting bird that we normally see in winter, a Groundscraper Thrush, was also spotted strutting his stuff on the bird walk.

I think the Blacksmith Lapwing thought we cut the grass especially for him.

I am not sure, but I think he is sitting on a nest in the middle of the road. If he is, I am going to have to cordon it off until the babies are gone.

Now is the time that the Lapwings start to carve out territories for themselves in the short grass of the cow’s paddocks where they build their nests and raise their babies. Always an interesting time.

It is also the time I have to send someone to chase the crows who will make short work of the babies unless we protect them.

I love this picture of a Bulbul hanging upside down feasting on the nectar offered by the Aloe castanea (Cat’s Tail Aloe). Not only the Bulbuls but the sunbirds and insects find the shiny dark brown nectar irresistible.

The Hadeda were snoozing on the dead tree on the island of the dam. They just carried on with their siesta and completely ignored Jeff walking around taking photos.


I am in the dog box with some of our customers for removing the Freylinia tropica in the retail nursery.

The customers may not be happy but the Cape White Eyes are delighted and are flocking to use the water feature.

They are so cute and always bring a smile to my face.

The Guinea Fowl are also enjoying the shorter grass and we are seeing big groups of them.

There was great excitement when we saw this scorpion in the garden. It is only the second time I have seen a scorpion here in about 5 years.

When I see things like this, it makes me feel good and as though we are doing something right.

I am always humbled by the creatures who share Random Harvest with us.

With all the flowers in the nursery (who says indigenous is drab?) the bees are really busy. I am also very happy that we are able to accommodate these amazing insects who seem to be under pressure from all quarters at the moment.

The bees are such an integral part of the ability to feed ourselves. Can you imagine a world without bees and just how we would have to struggle to produce enough food without them?

For those who are afraid of bees – I hope this allays your fears. These vitally important little creatures will only sting if we do something stupid like standing on them.

Remember if a bee does sting it is committing suicide and one thing is for sure - all creatures who inhabit this planet strive for life not death.

The pretty blue flower of Anchusa capensis is a great draw card for the bees.

They, along with the Sunbirds are also drawn to the Aloe flowers.

The yellow flower with the bee covered in pollen is a Cheirodopsis species.

The butterflies find the feast of nectar from flowers of the This Yellow Pansy Butterfly is sipping from the flower of Oscularia cedarbergensis which just so happens to be one of my favourite Vygies.

The other subject I would like to touch on is colour in the garden. People seem to forget that in many instances the leaves of plants can add a huge amount of colour to the garden.

I have added a few pictures of how leaves can, with a little thought, add colour and texture to the landscape.

If positioned with careful attention to the sun’s rays, when they shine through the leaves, it creates a magical show at certain times of the day. This is particularly true with respect to succulents.

The succulent garden is looking particularly beautiful at this time of the year with the Aloes flowering and the colour and textural contrast of the leaves.

Finally, I took this picture of a Rhus lancea growing at the bottom of the farm.

This tree is remarkably beautiful when grown in drier conditions with just rain to sustain it. When it is over watered it is spindly and does not develop to its true potential.

This is true of most trees – we tend to feed and water them too much to get them to grow quicker, whereas if we were a little more patient, we would land up with a much more beautiful specimen in our gardens.

I loved the rain we had over the past few days and am really looking forward to spring which is just around the corner.

Hope to see you at Random Harvest.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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