Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - September2016

Posted On: Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dear indigenous Enthusiast

You know that Spring has sprung when the Clivia miniata, the Scadoxus puniceus (Paintbrush) and the Erythrina lysistemon (Common Coral Tree) start blooming along with the Aloe rupestris (Bottlebrush Aloe).

All are in bloom and providing a riot of reds and oranges. One would think the colours clash – but not so. Amazingly, they are absolutely beautiful together and make up part of nature’s palette.


There is so much, blooming, buzzing and singing going on around us that it will be impossible to share everything with you.

In the Nursery

South African Indigenous Plant Catalogue

In a previous newsletter we mentioned the South African Indigenous Plant Catalogue that we have been working on. 

You can see this on the Plants tab of our Random Harvest Website.

This catalogue will eventually list all the plants that Random Harvest actually propagates and then stocks for our retail and wholesale customers. (1000+ plant species)

If you ever needed proof that SA indigenous plants can more than hold their own in sheer beauty, this is it. 

The information given for each plant includes a short description as well as valuable planting and growing advice.  It will always be a work in progress, but one I am very excited to share with all Random Harvest gardeners.  

Please share with your friends on Facebook.

Grandparents Day

Bring your grandparents on Sunday October, 2nd and spoil them with a delicious tea. We are doing a special selection of small tarts to tickle your taste buds without overdoing it. The special will be an apple crumble, fruit tart and a savoury spinach and feta quiche. This will cost R30.00 per person.

There will also be a gift of a herb in a pot for all the grandparents who visit on the day.

Bird food

We have stock of new bird food.


In this picture the Glossy Starling is feasting on freeze dried mealworms.

We put the container on the ground to encourage the Robins and Thrushes, who are ground feeders, to visit but down came the Starling to make a pig of himself.

I am still persevering in the hopes that the robins and thrushes do actually come to feed.

We also have Sunbird food and feeders as well as some beautiful gift packs. These make a wonderful gift for your bird loving friends.


We have received our new stock of hand thrown terracotta pots from Natal. These are good quality and great value for money. I normally buy these once a year as the potter doesn’t visit Johannesburg often. For him to make a special trip I need to buy a whole load. Hence we don’t always have them in stock.

Domestic Gardeners Course

Lindsay Gray will be holding her domestic gardeners course on September 9th and October 14th.

Your gardener will come away from this course with a lot more confidence and knowledge.

Tea and lunch are provided
Time: 8h00 to 16h30
Cost: R680.00

Introduction to Garden Design

On October 15th and 16th Lindsay will be running her Introduction to garden design. This will take you through the basics of designing a garden and how to put it down on paper

To find out more information or to book, please contact Lindsay Gray, on 082 44 99 237 or email her at [email protected] or check her website www.schoolofgardendesign.com

Highveld Bulb Society


The Highveld Bulb Society will have a stand at the Clivia show at Garden World which is being held on September 10th and 11th.

They will be selling Bulb Seeds and ex-open ground and container grown bulbs.

This will be an opportunity to buy some little known bulbs that are not generally available and also see some beautiful and unusual Clivias.

Plants that are Looking Good

Most plants are waking to the call of spring and there are amazing things going on in the nursery. Of course at this time of the year the White Stinkwoods are looking marvellous. This is only one of the many trees that are starting to shoot.

Here is a selection of colourful plants in the nursery.


Calpurnia aurea - Calpurnia (E); Geelkeur (A)

This hardy, small tree or shrub bears the most amazing, pendulous sprays of bright yellow flowers.

It makes a gorgeous tree for small spaces but can also be used as a large shrub.

Prune the tips after flowering to keep it in shape.

Felicia bergeriana Kingfisher Daisy (E); Visvangermadaliefie (A)

This hardy, attractive, clump-forming perennial develops to a dense carpet of bright green leaves.

The masses of white daisies are borne on long stems almost all year round.

To encourage mass flowering remove the dead flowers.

Makes a lovely border plant.


Polygala fruticosa ‘Petite’ Heart-leaved Polygala (E)

The heart-shaped, grey green leaves of this beautiful shrub have red margins and are coppery-pink when they first shoot. The magenta flowers are also a lovely feature of this plant. It can be pruned to the size you want but grows naturally up to about 1.5 meters. This rewarding plant is great in a mixed border, rockeries and containers.

Isolepis cernua - Fibreoptic grass (E)

This eye catching tiny sedge has mop-like fine bright green leaves topped with tiny silvery white flowers. It is useful for waterside planting and in shallow water but also grows in a normally irrigated garden.

Great for planting around small ponds where it provides shelter for frogs, tadpoles and fish fry. If the leaves get too long give it a haircut in spring or summer when it is growing actively.



The eye popping quality of the glistening flowers of these succulent groundcovers and shrubs are hard to beat and the variety seems endless. The flowers of this quintessential African plant come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes and we should be very proud of them. Being succulents they are drought resistant. Prune after flowering to encourage next year’s spectacular display.

This time of year is a riot of colours.

The Osteospermums, Felicias, Pelargoniums and Diascias are coming into full bloom.

When they start mass flowerings the memory of winter recedes very quickly, even if we have the odd cold day.

The plants I have mentioned do not like waterlogged soil


Euryops pectinatus - Golden Daisy Bush (E); Wolharpuisbos (A)

I know I probably always talk about this cheerful little shrub at this time of year but it is a really rewarding plant with its masses of yellow, daisy-like flowers.

The bonus of this plant, and the thing I love best, is the many butterflies that are attracted to its flowers.

Additionally it will bear some flowers almost all year round.

Prune to keep in shape.

On the Farm

All the creatures living with us on the farm are heralding spring. (Hyperlink to little article on spring?). My first intimations of the arrival of spring is the gentle call of the Hoopoe, singing of the frogs and the dawn chorus which gets louder and earlier each day.

I think I have the spring feeling as well as I seem to be ripping everything apart.

At long last I bit the bullet and I decided to paint my office which was looking shabby and as usual I opened a can of worms and have had to rewire it as well. We are now in week three of a 5 day job. I can’t wait to get back to my desk.

That is not the only thing I am pulling apart ... we have had a drainage problem in front of some storerooms and I in my wisdom decided to sort it out. This alone has taken 2 weeks to knock down walls and pull up concrete floors.

I can really bite off more that I can chew as on top of that I have been building platforms for my mother plants and using the rubble to fill them.

Poor Jeffrey and Jonathan can scarcely keep up with my appetite for improvement. This after I announced I was not going to do any more projects. Famous last words!



The birds have also been particularly busy and we have had some interesting sightings.

This Laughing Dove found a nice safe nesting site surrounded by the spikes of Aloe marlothii. Who said doves were silly birds?

I love it in winter when the Groundscraper Thrush visit us. Jeff got these lovely pictures of him and his typical hunting behaviour.

The sound of the Masked Weaver is another sign that summer is on the way. They are very busy at the bird feeder and the poor frustrated males have started on their marathon nest building in the hopes of attracting a female who approves of their home making skills.

Dove in Aloe Marlothii
Groundscraper Thrush
Groundscraper Thrush
Cape Masked Weaver
Cardinal Woodpecker
Puffback Shrike
African Pipit
Go Away Bird
Black Collared Barbet

We have known we have Cardinal Woodpecker on the farm and have seen them but never managed to get a picture. Jeff was lucky enough to get a picture of this one who completely ignored him.

Two of the special birds that were spotted on the recent bird walk are the Puffback Shrike and the African Pipit which we rarely see at Random Harvest. Exciting!

The birds are busy eating me out of house and home at the feeding station. I think they are fattening up for the hard work of bringing up their fledglings.

The Black Collared Barbets are now becoming frequent visitors to the feeding station. They have even gone to the trouble of excavating their nesting hole on one of the trees in the driveway. I think it is because they want to be conveniently close to the food source.

African Spoonbill
Cormorants and Herons

The predatory wetland birds are also feasting on the Tilapia in the dam. Luckily when we cleaned the dam we put lots of twiggy branches and other places for the fish to hide.If we hadn’t done that we would have been all fished out long ago. I also love seeing the fish-eating birds at the dam as it is a reassuring indicator that there is still a good source of food for them. This in turn tells me that the fish are thriving. I know I told you about the Spoonbill at the dam in the last newsletter but I had to share this lovely picture with you.

One of the most beautiful trees in spring is the Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) Hyperlink to Plantfinder.

It has the most beautiful, tiny delicate, pale green leaves interspersed with even tinier inconspicuous flowers.

The flowers may be inconsequential to us but to the birds they are a bounty of insects and nectar.

Cape White Eye
White Bellied Sunbird

They are visited by many birds but I am only sharing the picture of the White Bellied Sunbird and Cape White Eye both of which are difficult to photograph.

Jeff Managed to get these lovely pictures.


We are busy making mountains of Compost.

When I think of how much compost we were making 5 years ago that was sufficient for our needs and how much we are making now I am amazed.

It must be at least 5 times as much.

This shows just how many plants we produce now - it boggles my mind. I would never have believed how many people have bought into my dream of planting indigenous gardens.

Perhaps my life-long wish to turn Johannesburg into one great nature reserve, one garden at a time is not so far from coming true!

I fee l really blessed to be able to share my passion with so many people.

The Buddlejas have been in full bloom and sent their wonderful scent wafting through the nursery. Sometimes I am astounded at the variety of colours and shapes in one species.

Buddleja salvifolia  Buddleja salvifolia 

These pictures are of Buddleja salvifolia (Sagewood) which vary from pure white to almost purple.


When we came to live on the farm 48 years ago there were a few Ansellia africana (Leopard Orchid) growing in some of the trees.

Orchids are notoriously difficult to propagate so imagine Jeff and my surprise when we found this self-sown Ansellia growing on a Rhus lancea (Karree).

This was a really exciting find.

I bought Jeff a new camera that he can carry around with him.

This was definitely a rod for my own back as I spend hours sorting out the millions of pictures he is taking.

Not that I mind as I am seeing things I never noticed before, such as the beautiful and unusual bark of Warburgia salutaris (Pepper Bark)

On one of Jeffrey’s meanders around the farm, this surprising pink Halleria lucida (Tree Fuchsia) jumped out at him.

I have seen orange, white and yellow flowered forms but a pink one, I have never seen.


We are going to start propagating it from cuttings to keep the integrity of the colour.

It is always exciting to find something new although one has to be super patient working on it until we have enough stock.

There is now a competition on between Jeff, David and Ashley on who can take the best photos. This beautiful one of the Scabiosa with a bee visiting it was taken by Ashley.

I love Scabiosa as it blooms prolifically for about 9 or 10 months of the year if it gets enough sunshine. For that time we not only have beautiful flowers but also have the joy of watching the butterflies and insects that are attracted to the flowers.

Remember to remove the dead flowers to encourage more flowers.

Aloe striata 

One of the Aloes that bloom late in the season is Aloe striata (Coral Aloe (E); Bloualwyn).

This beautiful Aloe is not the easiest to propagate so we never have masses in stock.

It is a beautiful addition to any garden with its blue grey leaves and beautiful coral coloured flowers.

I would like to say a big 'Thank You' for continuing to visit us during the petrol strike.

I was quite worried about the business, but I needn’t have worried and just relied on you, my loyal, and much appreciated clients.

I felt that I had to share the picture of the lovely view I have from my office.

Before I changed the nursery this view was blocked off.

I was delighted to be able to see this beautiful Aloe Marlothii (Mountain Aloe).

When it started blooming I was even more pleased as the flowers were yellow.

I have since found another two yellow flowered forms on the farm – exciting!

Aloe Marlothii


Enjoy the warmer weather, your plants starting to shoot and the birds singing in your garden – Life is truly beautiful.





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