Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - December 2016

Posted On: Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast

I am so lucky to live on such a beautiful farm and am always happy to share my blessings with everyone who visits the nursery and tea garden.

It is quite scary to think just how fast this year has gone and it is already Christmas time.

Christmas at Random Harvest

Christmas Tree

We have decorated our indigenous Christmas tree (Commiphora mollis or Corkwood) for birds again this year.  

The little devils are eating me out of house and home. We are using 40 seed bells and 10 suet balls each day.  

I am not complaining as they give everyone so much pleasure. 

The male Red Bishop, and Southern Masked Weaver, all in their magnificent breeding plumage, lend their own spectacular colour to the tree. 

The birds have got so tame that photo opportunities abound. 

Don’t forget to bring your camera with you when you visit, and please share the pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I also just have to mention our very unique Christmas Star on the tree. A Masked Weaver has woven a beautiful nest at the very top of the tree – staking his claim on the bounty below him!

Our Christmas tree in the Gazebo has been decorated with Indigenous Seed Pod Decorations and Christmas lights, and has a very different feel to the frenzied activity in the bird’s Christmas tree.  

I think the decorations look lovely, and hope you get inspiration for your own festive season tree.

Clopas has made some of these beautiful bird feeder decorations for our shop, so if you are as taken with them as I am, we do have some for sale

Our trees look so spectacular at night I wish I could share them with you.

Heather did these beautiful decorations with recycled tins for our tables in the tea garden for us. They have been a hit with our customers.

Both Random Harvest’s shop and retail nursery provide a variety of lovely Christmas gifts for your special people this festive season.  

Edible treats, body care items, Christmas decorations and treats for birds, artwork, plants, pots and gift vouchers are just a few of the items to choose from.

Art Exhibition

Heather’s art exhibition has gone down a treat with our customers, they seem to love the natural theme as much as I do.  

I have to try and keep my hands in my pockets or I would buy them all.

This is a perfect time to spoil yourself or someone you love with a beautiful art work.

Kids – Spot the creature in the tree

As is customary at Random Harvest Nursery, Christmas cannot go by without us saying thank you to our customers for their support over the year. 

Our treat this year is a children’s gift that they receive when they have done a fun activity of spotting creatures in a tree. Please ask at reception for this activity when you visit with your children.

Highveld Garden (Nice job my staff have– a beautiful garden to sit in.)

Jeff is not only a fountain of information and my chief photographer for the newsletters, but he also has a really good eye for design.

With the help of his team he has worked his magic to highlight many of the species one can use to create a lovely Highveld inspiration garden. 

Even a small outdoor space can be transformed with careful choice of plant species into a Highveld heaven. 

The little garden includes a dry river bed (excellent for rainwater management), forest patch created predominantly with Canthium gilfillanii, and a grassland showcasing typically Highveld plant species. Have a look at our website for more information on Creating the Highveld Garden

In keeping with our “local” Highveld Christmas theme, we have some lovely Highveld species of shrubs and trees that would make great indigenous Christmas trees to decorate.

A few suggestions are:

There are many more to browse through and choose from. A friend of mine buys a new tree or shrub each year, and once the festivities are over she adds it to her garden or gives it to a friend.

Please bear in mind though, that it should be able to tolerate being indoors for a good few weeks. This will help to prevent excessive leaf drop.

Tree Walk

We still have a few places left on our tree walk this Saturday 3rd December at 9:00. I can’t imagine a morning much better spent than strolling through the beautiful grounds on a guided delve into the fascinating facts and anecdotes about some magnificent trees.

Tea with yummy treats after the walk gives you a chance to digest all this information and ask even more questions of Linda and Jeff.  Such a worthwhile morning activity, especially if you are considering planting a tree or a few in the near future.

The cost of the morning is only R85 which includes the walk, refreshment and an information booklet. Please bring a hat and sunscreen.

Booking is essential, so please call David on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected].

Plants that are looking good

So many plants are looking wonderful at this time of year. Here are a few that we love and have in stock.

Albuca shawii - Small Yellow Albuca (E), Lanternblom (A)

This delicate bulbous plant is beautiful planted in among short grasses, massed together in containers or as a delicate border plant.

Salvia namaensis - Nama Sage (E)

Very hardy, drought resistant shrublet has wrinkled, lobed, beautifully textured leaves that are aromatic when crushed.

Gladiolus ochroleucas - Pypie (A)

This delicate bulbous plant is beautiful planted in among short grasses, massed together in containers or as a delicate border plant.

Milettia grandis - Umzimbeet (E)

This beautiful big tree has magnificent pale purple flowers. 

 The tree pictured is in our parking area. 

When the Sweet Thorn behind it is covered in yellow flowers and blooms at the same time it is a sight to behold.

Aristea ecklonis – Blue Stars (E)

Evergreen perennial with the most beautiful blue star shaped flowers. It has pretty pleated, evergreen foliage.

Apodytes dimidiata – White pear (E)

I just love this hardy evergreen tree that is covered in white flowers the petals of which coat the ground like snow.  

The black and red berries attract all manner of birds.

Becium obovatum – Cats whiskers (E)

Delicate looking but very hardy, semi deciduous groundcover with lovely flowers that have long curving stamens.


There are so many plants looking absolutely marvelous at the moment, Random Harvest is certainly worth a visit.

South African Landscapers Institute

We were awarded their supplier of the year trophy, which was a real honour for Random Harvest.  

The picture is of the team who did all the hard work.  

From left to right are Jeffrey, Sydney, Refilwe and Meshack

Tea Garden

We have had quite a few functions booked for Christmas especially breakfast functions.

If you are looking for somewhere to have you function please give us a thought.

On The Farm

Isn’t it amazing what a bit of rain can do?  The grasslands were transformed from brown and crispy to such an intense emerald green virtually overnight that it almost hurts your eyes.  

The wild flowers peeping from in between the grass, like this Pelargonium luridum add a magical quality to the grasslands.


Jeff and I just had to go down to the dam when it was raining.  We love seeing the water rushing down the furrows we built and into the dam.  Talk about water off a ducks back.  The Egyptian Geese babies perched on the island were enjoying the rain as much as we were.

With the rain come the mosquitoes and as much as we fish the larvae out of the still ponds they have still been a menace.

Jonathan went to buy carnivorous Tilapia to put in the ponds.  You can see how delighted I was to see them in the bags – a thing we don’t often get an opportunity to do.

The bird walks have gone down a treat, as usual and I am just waiting for a few dates from Andre as to when he can lead them.  

Just yesterday we saw another exciting bird, a Purple Indigobird.  He came to partake of the bountiful food we have been supplying in our Christmas tree.

The Cuckoos have arrived in force to harass the birds and get them to hatch their eggs and bring up the demanding Cuckoo babies.

Jeff managed to get this picture of the black Cuckoo who is always so mournful with his call 'I’m soooo sad’.

The Thick-billed Weavers are also out in force this year.  I have only seen a them a handful of times over the years but this year they seem to be all over the place.

As you can see Mike has a good boss working for him.  How great is the beautiful forest display for an office?  Only at Random Harvest could you work in surroundings like this.

This Ficus sur (Broom Cluster Fig) is just covered in fruits.  The fruit is delicious but must be picked a little green as the ripe ones are full of insects.  According to the masses of birds who feast on these fruits, the insects are just a great addition of protein.

The first Acacia karroo to bloom on the farm was right at the bottom of the property among our barrier plants.  The flowers were so huge it was almost unbelievable.

The Turraea floribunda (Honeysuckle tree) has been just covered in flowers that emit the most amazing scent.  I regularly take a drive to the tree just to drink in the heady perfume.

This is quite a short but spreading tree and can be used in smaller gardens.

Speaking of scented trees, the Gonioma kamassii is also in full flower.  It has clusters of white flowers and interesting pods.  This is a tiny tree and suitable for even the smallest of gardens.


If you take a walk around Random Harvest you will find a treasure chest of beautiful plants to delight you. In particular visit the succulent garden, Jeffrey’s, favourite part of the garden.  

These Crassula falcata coming up in between the rocks is only one of the beautiful plants to see in this garden.

There is a gentleman who is going to come out and look after our beehives.

He reckons that the bees at Random Harvest are exceptionally lucky to have  people who care so much for them and go to the trouble of making a ‘Bee Water Trough’ so that they don’t have to suffer through dry times.

It can only be my staff and I who come up with an idea like this.

This locust sitting on a fence post is taking chances with his life.

Hopefully he was keeping a good lookout for birds who would pounce on him in a heartbeat.

The other locust is more circumspect and is at least taking precautions not to be the next juicy morsel.



A newly hatched Rhino Beetle trundling away from the compost heaps where he spent is young life as a big juicy grub.  He was one of the lucky ones that got away from the birds who spend their lives marching around the compost heaps looking for a juicy meal.

It didn’t take the creatures too long to discover the Highveld garden display.  This skink is so cute peeping over the top of the rock just to make sure it is safe to come out for a sunbath.  I also just love the lichens on the rock.  Who says I don’t live in paradise.

How beautiful is this Citrus Swallowtail butterfly sipping from a Plumbago?


Not only is Plumbago auriculata beautiful, it is also a wonderful butterfly feeding and host plant (so don’t kill the worms next time you see them on a Plumbago).

These are pictures of some of the other plants scattered around the farm that are looking particularly beautiful at the moment, Erythrina zeyheri (Ploegbreker) This beautiful plant is an underground tree that grows in grasslands.  It spends most of its life underground and this is a response to the hot fires that sweep our grasslands.

Philenoptera violacea (Apple Leaf) is a very distinctive Bushveld trees that does really well here on the Highveld. 

I remember seeing it in bloom at Tshipise.  It had dropped its very nutritious petals to the ground and everybody and his brother were feasting on them.

The Swifts and Swallows are back.  I love seeing them swoop and skim the surface of the dam for a drink.  Here they are perched on a stem of a Papyrus.  My heart just swells with love for them.

Jeffrey has been trying for the longest time to get a good picture of the Puffback.  He was so excited to finally get a picture that is not half disguised by leaves.  This year the Puffback have been here in numbers and for quite a long time.

I wish you all the best for the festive season.  If you are going on holiday take care…there are maniacs on the road.  If you are not going on holiday why not come and spend some quality time with us at Random Harvest.

May all your dreams come true.



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