Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2016

Posted On: Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Did you love the rain? I certainly did and was even happier that the hail missed us. It is wonderful driving around the nursery in this humid weather, and the plants have certainly responded with a spurt of growth. Rain always makes such a difference to the plants.

Art Exhibition By Heather

At long last Heather has settled down to do her art. She is so amazingly talented and we are privileged to host her first solo exhibition here at Random Harvest.

Heather has illustrated for Random Harvest Nursery for the past 16 years.

Traditionally working in water colour, aquarelle pencil crayon and pen and ink on small scale illustrations, this exhibition includes a range of works in various media.

Her subject matter for this exhibition celebrates a response to the natural things that surround us, both wild and cultivated.

The exhibition funs until 31 December 2016.


The opening will be on November 5th from 10.00am to 11.30am. If you would like to join us for snacks and champagne and orange juice please call David on 082-553-0598 to book. Booking is essential as space is limited.

WIFI Hotspot

We have been wrestling with trying to install WiFi in the bed and breakfast cottages without much luck as there are so many trees here. As a stopgap we have installed a hotspot here in the nursery. I do think one is hard pressed not to relax when visiting us, and technology is all but forgotten about. Enjoy all things natural here … but in the event that this is not possible WiFi is now available.

Hopefully we will have WiFi in the cottages in the next 2 months. We’ll keep you posted!

Garden Displays

We are busy putting together a Highveld garden display, which will, weather permitting, be ready by 15th November.

I hope to inspire you to use local plants and also show you just how beautiful they can be.

The forest garden display near the entrance of the nursery is coming into its own again.

This should inspire you to garden in the shade.

For the compulsive gardener this is a welcome oasis in which to work through the heat of the day.

Christmas Trees

My Mom loved our 2015 Christmas tree for the birds so much that she is insisting that we build it again this year. I must say that it was enjoyed by everyone who came to visit the nursery. Our intention is to make it so attractive to the birds again this year that they come along for the feast.

We are also making lovely Christmas decorations from indigenous seeds. We will be decorating a Podocarpus elongates (Breede River Yellowwood). This is the smallest of the Yellowwoods

Mid Week Accommodation Specials (Sunday to Thursday nights)

During the holidays in December we are offering weekday specials and hope you will visit and enjoy relaxing with us. Take some quiet time for gentle walks and a bit of bird watching, and allow us to look after your needs.

R550.00 per person sharing per night, including a R50.00 voucher for the tea garden. If you stay for 3 days we will provide you with all you need to enjoy a braai under the stars for one of the evenings.


When thinking about what you can buy for Christmas for your loved ones, why not visit our quirky little shop.

There is stock of some interesting gift packs of bird feeding goodies. You could also make up your own hamper of food for the birds for your fellow nature lovers.

We also have some beautiful candle shades with indigenous scenes on them, scented porcelain candles and exquisite, delicate porcelain votive candles.

I must say I love products made with care and this is what I strive to stock in the shop.

Ideas For Your Garden

November has to be one of my all-time favourite months in the garden. After our few lovely rain showers in October, I am holding thumbs that it bodes well for a lush green, rain-healthy November! Here are a few ideas of what you can do in your garden in this wonderful month.

Eating Alfresco – The evenings are longer now, so take advantage of this gift of a little extra time in the garden. Cart your supper outside. If you don’t have garden furniture, then a picnic blanket and a couple of cushions will do. My favourite is to watch the swifts and swallows gradually dwindle as they soar off to bed, being replaced one by one by the hungry little bats.

Candles in the garden. There are a vast number of ideas for creating candle holders that are suitable for the garden. One only has to look at Pinterest to get some creative inspiration. Have a look at the beautiful votive candles that we stock in our shop. So beautiful for a charming alfresco dinner table.

Potted garden

I find the end of October and beginning of November the most exciting months for potted plants.

Everything seems to take on new energy and life. Clean out weeds and dead leaves and remove the old flower heads. If the soil level has dropped, add some compost and mulch, taking care not to bury the stems especially of woody plants.

Pots need to be well watered and well mulched. The mulch will help keep the pots moist.

A little time spent maintaining your pot plants will offer great rewards.

Make sure they are placed in the right spot for optimum growth of the plant you have chosen and give them a dressing of rock dust and organic fertiliser.

As the soil space is limited they will require a little more fertilising than the rest of your garden.

Pots also make ideal Christmas presents for your loved ones.

Dips and Swales (Making preparations for the rain)

We have already received some lovely rain, but to avoid the garden washing away in a summer downpour or two, here are a few ideas.

Observe where rainwater runoff flows in your garden. Before the real summer rains begin, have a look at how you can slow water down, spread it out (particularly on lawns) and then enable as much as possible to soak into the ground.

Create dips and swales to minimise water run-off and keep the water in your garden so it has time to seep down into the soil. The beauty of this is that in many instances you can direct the water to where you most need it.

We will be putting up a blog in the next few weeks on how you can create these dips and swales in your garden.

Mulching and Rock Dust minimise Watering

Give your garden a light dressing of Rock Dust and cover exposed soil with an 8 to 10cm depth of wood chip mulch.

I have had incredible results with this and have cut the watering of our garden by as much as 70% (depending on the type of plant). It has worked amazingly on my Plectranthus bed which is only watered every 7 to 10 days.

We have Rock Dust and mulch both available here at Random Harvest.

I think we should use this system on our gardens regardless of whether there are water restrictions or not as it saves both our scarce water resource and saves us money.

Remember to water as late as possible so that the water has the cool of the night to soak into the soil.

If you water in the heat of the day most of the water you use evaporates.

Mulching with wood chips is incredibly good for your soil as this diagram shows.

Tree Walk And Talk

On Saturday the 3rd December we will be hosting a tree walk and talk.

Enjoy tea and scones with me while we talk about growing indigenous trees in our gardens and how to make the right choice for your area. I will try and answer all the questions you may have.

After tea Jeffrey will take you for a walk around the nursery and introduce you to the trees we love so much. He will be able to answer your questions on the walk.

We will also provide you with a booklet on choosing trees and how to plant them. The cost for the booklet, tea and the walk is R85.00 per person

Booking is essential. Please call David on 082-553-0598 to book.

Domestic Gardener’s Course

This is Lindsay Gray’s last domestic gardener’s course for this year and will be held on November, 11th.

Your gardener will go 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 November 12th and 13th Lindsay will be running the final Introduction to garden design of the year. 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

Year End Functions

If you are planning your end of year function you may want to think of hosting it here at Random Harvest.

We offer you the opportunity of something a little different - it could be a breakfast, tea or lunch function in a beautiful informal setting.

We have hosted some interesting functions here over the last few months and everyone has enjoyed the Alfresco dining we offer.

Plants Looking Good

There are so many plants that are looking great that I am spoilt for choice and am able to share just a few with you.

If you click on the picture it will take you to the plant finder on our website. This will give you the information you need to help you choose what you would like to plant and where to plant it as well as other interesting information on the plant.

Boophone distichaFan-leaved Boophone (E); Gifbol (A)

Crinum graminicola
Grass Vlei Lily (E); Graslelie (A)

Gloriosa superbaFlame lily (E); Vlamlelie (A)

Scilla natalensisBlue Squill (E); Blouslangkop (A)

Clerodendrum myricoidesBlue Cat’s Whiskers (E); Bloutontelhout (A)

Pelargonium sidoidesKalwerbossie (A)

Grewia occidentalisCross-berry (E); Kruisbessie (A)

Pelargonium acetosumSorrel Leaf (E)

Gardenia volkensiiBushveld Gardenia (E); Bosveldkatjiepiering (A)

Stachys aethiopicaAfrican Stachys (E); Katpisbossie

Aponogeton distachyosCape Pond Weed (E); Waterblommetjie (A)

On The Farm

The farm is just bursting with life. One of my favourite things in early summer is the arrival of the Paradise Flycatcher. They flit around the garden like little jewels with a call that can’t help but make you smile.

All the birds are really busy with breeding season and one of the most vocal is the tiniest bird, the Tawny Flanked Prinia.

An exciting bird discovery was this Mocking Cliff Chat female which was totally out of habitat. Luckily Jeffrey managed to get a picture which is irrefutable proof.

The plants are also bursting with life and offering up a bounty of nectar and insects for the birds.

The Schotia brachypetala (Weeping Boerbean) near the conference room is full of beautiful scarlet flowers filled with nectar which is attracting every bird in the neighbourhood, Weavers, Sunbirds, Starlings and White Eyes amongst many others.

The Erythrophysa transvaalensis (Transvaal Red Balloon) is in flower. These beautiful flowers are followed by huge inflated red see pods, another beautiful element of this plant.

Seeing this picture reminds of how I slid down the mountain on my bottom at Pilansberg when I was allowed to collect a few seeds. I didn’t even try to save myself just hung on to the seeds which were undamaged, I won’t mention what I did to myself – I couldn’t sit for a few weeks. Plants are fun and make wonderful memories.

See how beautiful this orchid (Ansellia gigantea) is. It was on the farm when we moved here 48 years ago. It has been particularly beautiful this year as have its many offshoots that we have rooted and moved to other trees in the garden.

My Mom’s succulent garden looks amazing almost all year round. Now is the time of the Erythrina and Bulbs.

The Stamvrug in the garden is also flowering its head off. It is really interesting with the flowers growing on the stem (cauliflorous)which become the delicious red fruits lining the stems.

After quite a few years it looks as if we will have a bumper crop this year.

Not only is everything blooming but the butterflies are out in force to enjoy the bounty offered.

This weedy, though floriferous little Lasiospermum bipinnatum, has an irresistible attraction for butterflies. We have observed about 6 different species sipping on its nectar.

There have been a multitude of newly emerged Citrus Swallowtail butterflies in the nursery as well as Eyed Pansy butterflies. Somehow watching butterflies is good for the soul and fosters a feeling of peace.

It is also breeding season for the Tilapia as you can see from how colourful they have become.

They are really active at the moment which, I think, is why every fish eating bird in the area, like this Green Heron is visiting the dam.

The grassland birds are also active and sorting out their various territories. Now is the time that we have to be vigilant or the flocks of crows in the area decimate the baby Plovers. My staff are well trained to use the ‘Katties’ to chase them and protect the babies.

The pair of Stone Chat have been very vocal and given Jeffrey and I lots of joyous moments.

I was having one of my grumpy moments when Jeffrey decided to take me for a drive to the dam late in the afternoon. Who on earth can stay grumpy when you see a beautiful Scrub Hare? What a privilege it is to share my world with the wildlife both big and small.

I love these ants and how industrious they are as well as this beautiful Red Lipped Herald Snake. This harmless snake has a really important role to play in nature and should be protected at all costs.

My final little bit about the dam is this beautiful picture of the Common Waxbill that Jeffrey took. He has been trying to get a good picture of this active little bird for the longest time.

Not only is the wildlife active at the moment, but the farm animals as well.

The geese have babies. In the early morning when I come to the office and the sun is just rising I love how they run along waggling their bottoms with the sun glistening on their baby feathers. It starts my day with a smile.

The chickens have babies and have decided they would rather drink from the cow’s trough than their own watering point.

Jonathan has been busy supervising construction of the new mist house for Mike.

This has been a steep learning curve for us as we have built a boiler and are going to heat the beds with hot water.

Wish us luck and hope it works efficiently.

This beautiful little fairy visited us in the nursery.

She looked so cute and ladylike when she came into the nursery but it didn’t take much time for her to have her head in the pond searching for frogs and other creatures.

It is wonderful to be able to provide for children to enjoy nature.

Finally I would like to share these pictures of the colour in our mother plant beds and the Wagtail.

Sighting of the Wagtails are becoming rarer as we mess with their habitat.

They are also badly affected by pesticides.

For me these photographs are a sign that we are doing something right.

Happy gardening and here’s hoping for more rain sooner rather than later.



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email [email protected]

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