Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - January 2017

Posted On: Sunday, January 1, 2017

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I wish you a very happy new year!  May all your wishes come true and may you have peace in your soul.

I am very happy with the wonderful rain we have been having especially after last season being so dry.  The plants are happy and thriving.

In The Nursery

Mike has been sorting out the nursery – a monster job.  It is looking so wonderful and I am really excited to be able to see the plants species all packed together and looking so neat and tidy.  Lucky he is so fanatically organised.  I am certain it will show in the quality of the plants we will be able to offer you.

Bird Walk

January 28: Time 6h30 for 7h00
Andre will once again be hosting one of his immensely popular bird walks

Cost per person R140.00 which includes a welcome coffee and biscuits and after the walk there will be a breakfast buffet of Egg, Bacon, Sausages, cut fresh tomato bread and jam, meusli, fresh fruit with hot or cold milk and tea or coffee.

Remember to book early to avoid disappointment
Art Exhibition by Bradleigh Skorpen

We are delighted to be exhibiting the artworks of one of our long-time customers, Bradleigh Skorpen, during the month of February.  Working primarily as a successful landscaper for many years, Bradleigh has started to explore more of his artistic talent, working predominantly in pastels to depict beautiful landscapes and scenery. These will be available to view and purchase from the 1st of February.

Highveld Garden Walk and Talk

After the lovely rain in December and November, our Highveld garden grasses exploded into a fountain of leaves and flowers, leaving little breathing space for the flowering herbaceous plants we added to the garden. 

We have thinned out the grasses and made a few adjustments and I think it looks gorgeous again. 

Although many indigenous gardens may be low maintenance (depending on the level of informality you like), there is no garden that is completely no maintenance to keep it looking its best.

If you would like to join us for one of our “walk and talk” explorations of this inspirational garden, they will be on Tuesdays (17th, 24th and 31st of January) from 10.30 to 11h00 on each of these mornings.

Just as a little aside we must be doing something right in this display garden as all manner of creatures have taken up residence.

Question and Answer Coffee Morning

Due to much interest from our customers, we have decided to run a monthly Indigenous Gardening question and answer morning, starting in March (1 March, 2017).  The meetings will be on the first Wednesday of the month, with a specific theme for each meeting.  Bring your gardening friends along and stay for tea or early lunch afterwards in our tea garden, and a browse in the nursery.

Further details will be available on our website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Cottage mid-week stays

Just a reminder that Pensioners qualify for a discount on mid-week stays in our cottages. Combining this with our Wednesday discounts for Pensioners in both the nursery and the tea garden makes for a most affordable and pleasant stay.


Lindsay Gray

Will once again be hosting her popular gardening courses here at Random Harvest.  They are as follows.

Domestic Gardener’s Course

This is Lindsay Gray’s first domestic gardener’s course for this year and will be held on the 17th February, 2017

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

The Second course will be held on the 10th March

Introduction to Garden Design

On February 18th and 19th Lindsay will be running the introduction to garden design course.  This is the first for this 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

Plants Looking Good

Monopsis unidentata - Wild violet (E)  This fairly hardy, fast growing, dainty, evergreen groundcover bears masses of delicate, deep purple flowers almost all year round.  It prefers sunny d amp spots although it also does well in semi-shade and is attractive planted around ponds, along borders and in hanging baskets.

Indigofera frutescens - River Indigo (E); Rivierverfbos (A) is a semi-deciduous, graceful, small tree with delicate compound leaves and attractive bark.  It blooms with elegant, upright sprays of showy pink and dark pink flower spikes for an exceptionally long time in summer (Oct. to March).   It is an ideal tree for smaller gardens and is really beautiful planted in groves.  It also makes an exceptional container plant.

Selago Hybrid Richard is a particularly rewarding evergreen shrublet, with heads of tiny mauve flowers that are irresistible to butterflies and other pollinating insects. 

Plant it in a grassland garden or as part of a colourful flower bed.

It will reward you wherever it is planted, as long as it gets enough sun to flower well.

Bulbine abyssinica - Bushy Bulbine (E); Wildekopieva A very hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, succulent plant with grass-like, fleshy leaves.  The star-shaped, yellow flowers are looking particularly beautiful this month. They are held in densely packed heads at the end of long flowering stems from Oct. to Feb., although there are some flowers throughout the year.  It is ideal as a rockery or bedding plant in well-drained soil in full sun.

Tinnea barbata is a pretty but little-known shrub that deserves a lot more attention as a great garden subject. It grows to about 1.5m. and bears many blueish purple flowers that hang from the branches like little jewels.  It is evergreen, semi-hardy and should be pruned fairly regularly, as its natural growth habit is to climb or scramble over other plants.  Plant in semi-shade in well composted soil.

Heteropyxis canescens - Forest Lavender Tree (E); is a rare, hardy, small, semi-deciduous tree. 

It has beautiful, sparkling, beige bark that flakes off in patches leaving attractive blotches.

The quite large, decorative leaves have interesting venation and smell of lavender when crushed. 

In autumn they put on a lavish show of red, purple and maroon.  The tree holds its leaves almost all winter and is truly beautiful.  It grows best in moist conditions. This is a delightful tree for small spaces. 

Plant close together in groves for a gorgeous effect, line a pathway or use as a single specimen in small areas.

It also makes a great container plant.

Isolepis cernua – Fibre Optic Grass (E) is a fountain-like, bright green, little flowering sedge that has silvery flower heads on the tips of long stems that make it look like a spray of fibre-optic threads. It grows in damp, marshy areas, so needs plenty of water, and will be at its best at the edge of a water feature or in a container that will hold moisture. Plant in full sun to light shade.

Streptocarpus formosus - Cape Primrose (E) A hardy, evergreen perennial with clumps of long, quilted, strap shaped leaves that are arranged in a basal rosette. It bears one or two large, purple, trumpet-shaped flowers that have dark streaks and are carried at the tips of long, delicate flowering stems in spring and summer. Water thoroughly only when the plants are dry. Water less during winter. Streptocarpus should rather be under watered than over watered. Plant in a well-composted medium with good drainage in a shady position, where the soil is moist, rather than wet.  Looks beautiful planted alongside a shady pond or in containers.

Galpinia transvaalica - Wild Pride of India (E); Transvaalliguster (A); umhlope (Z) This hardy, decorative, thickset, small to medium sized, sometimes multi-stemmed, evergreen tree has waxy, glossy, wavy-edged leaves that flush an amazing red in spring. Showy white flowers are borne from Dec. to Apr. which attract insects to the garden.  It is also a butterfly host tree. Galpinia makes a good container plant and can also be pruned into an attractive, formal hedge in sun or semi-shade

Brilliantasia subulugurica - Giant Salvia (E) is a fairly hardy, semi-deciduous, vigorous, fast growing shrub with large, glossy, attractive leaves. 

It has spikes of big, beautiful, mauve, salvia-like flowers in late summer. 

It needs sun for part of the day and should be well watered to flower best.

Prune back at the beginning of spring. 

With its striking flowers, it is a lovely background plant for a shady area.

On The Farm

Since I started writing this newsletter we have had a deluge.  It was incredibly exciting never mind that it wreaked havoc with our electronics on the farm.  These are a small price to pay for the amount of water that fell on Random Harvest – 113mm in one day.

The furrows where I collect the runoff water to send to the dam were raging torrents, never mind the usual gentle furrow.  The dam is almost overflowing and is now hosting about 30 – 40 Bullfrogs who are calling, fighting and mating.  Words fail me to explain how blessed and excited I feel. 

Hopefully they hang around a little longer so you could maybe visit and share in my wonder and excitement.

Check our Facebook page to watch the video Jeffrey took. From this picture you can see ‘The Sea’ of Random Harvest.

The grassland is looking incredible at the moment, a real paradise.

I am wondering how it will change over the next few weeks after these rains.  When I think of how desiccated it was for most of the season last year they certainly live up to their name of being the immortals,

The butterflies and other insects are also enjoying the grassland as much as I am.

There are still a lot of flowers about which is quite unusual as the grasses are growing strongly getting ready to seed and this process normally shades out the flowers.

The Gomphocarpus fruticosus with its attractive complex flowers attracts a whole host of insects.  It also has beautiful seeds pods that pop open allowing the seeds to float away on silken strands.

The Xysmalobium undulatum with its inflated, hairy seed pods are also looking amazing at the moment.

Aren't I lucky to live with this beautiful grassland and witness the beauty of seasonal change.

Before the rain these millions of tiny mushrooms popped up under the trees.  They seemed to be growing in the soil deposited by ants.  I have never seen anything like this before.  I am wondering if it wasn’t in response to the coming rain.  Nature is so complex anything is possible.

The birds have been very active on the farm.  I loved this picture Jeffrey managed to take of a Paradise Flycatcher feeding her babies.   Their nests  are so cryptic that he never found the tiny cup like nest but knew more or less where it was and hence this lovely picture of the babies.

I eventually had to take the decorations out of the Christmas  tree for the birds as there were so many visitors the poor tree was taking strain.  I moved the decorations back into the dead tree.  I must say this did not deter the birds at all.

They have still be costing me a small fortune in food.

On the way to the dam Jeff and I saw this beautiful Cape Longclaw.  I loved the picture as it shows a big part of the habitat this beautiful bird lives in.

At the dam we then saw this Greenbacked heron skulking at the base of the Cyperus papyrus.  Hopefully he is not just waiting patiently for the Moorhen babies to hatch so he can get a free meal.


We then also spotted this Terrapin posing for us.


Although there have not been an abundance of creatures and birds at the dam it is enough to always keep a visit interesting.

The minute the dam gets more water and is a little deeper we see different birds visiting, like this Red-Knobbed Coot and today I saw Yellow Billed Duck.

I loved this cormorant glistening in the morning sun.

Another fairly unusual visitor to the dam was the Grey Heron.  Hopefully he is not also hunting the Moorhen babies.  I will have to send someone down there to work so that they can also protect the babies from marauding birds.

Heather painted a picture of swifts that is almost exactly like this photo.  I booked it for myself but after a customer needed it for a birthday present for her daughter I sold it.

Hopefully Heather will do another picture for me.  I loved the freedom of the picture.

I was so happy to see this picture of a Scorpion in our woodpile.  This is quite a rare sighting at Random Harvest.  I think it is a Rock Scorpion.

It is amazing how much wildlife you can see in an urban area if you just take the time to observe.

Talk about observing.  Luckily Jeff was on hand for the birth of this calf.  The cows can be so secretive that they will pop the baby just when your back is turned.

We were asked to do a plant rescue and found these huge Crinum graminicola bulbs.

This beautiful grassland Crinum is getting rarer and rarer as we go around destroying our grasslands.

It really gives me a sense of achievement when they bloom and hopefully seed themselves on Random Harvest

My Mom’s Adenium hybrid has been flowering out of its socks.  This is the Adenium that she made a raincoat for.  All her extra TLC has rewarded her with a wonderful show of flowers on her patio.

Last month I spoke about our drinking station for the bees.  Well! They have found a better solution themselves.  Perching on the leaves of Nymphoides indica

We may plant them for aesthetic reasons but they actually are of great service in the environment and to the many insects that use them in order to quench their thirst. 

We are always learning and in my case get more and more fascinated by natures interactions.

Once again we are back at our usual job of trying to keep the grassland weed free.  We can only do this after heavy rain so all my staff are down there helping me to keep the grassland healthy.

I always think the Cape Robin Chat is a bird with attitude and endlessly curious.

So, I think I cannot wish you anything better for this year than to live with attitude and be endlessly curious.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

For directions please go to our website www.randomharvest.co.za : or call 082-553-0598

Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Sundays

Cottages 072-562-3396 :  Nursery 082-553-0598

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