Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - September 2017

Posted On: Friday, September 1, 2017

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

This bumper spring issue of the Random Harvest Newsletter is packed with great things happening at Random Harvest. So…get yourself comfy and I hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

I am so happy to have Jeffrey back at the Nursery, and he is working his magic in the retail section. His sore ankle and crutches don’t seem to be slowing him down, and he amazes me with his energy to tackle what needs to be done. He and I are excited to be going into spring with our retail nursery looking lovely, living up to expectations, and, hopefully exceeding them!


I have eventually completed my indigenous plant guide. What a mammoth task! This includes all indigenous plant species grown (both past and present) at Random Harvest Nursery.

A short description and planting advice are included for each species, and it has made me fall in love with my plants all over again!

The guide will be available from the book section of our shop, and retails for R125.00. For the month of September, I will be selling it for an introductory amount of R95.00…a real bargain!


Can you believe that we are only two weeks away from the 1st of September - the official start of spring.

We have some beautiful new season colour plants in stock, just begging to go home with you.


The first of September also marks the beginning of Arbor Week, and this year the “Trees of the Year” are the Buffalo Thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) as the common tree and the Ebony Tree (Euclea pseudebenus) as the rare tree.

The Buffalo Thorn (Pictured right) thrives in our Highveld Gardens and is well worth planting.

The Ebony Tree grows in the north western regions of our country, and is extremely drought tolerant, but uncommon in local nurseries. I have been growing a few specimens for years but they are so slow. After growing them for about 10years they are not yet a meter tall.

Euclea crispa (the Blue Guarri) is the locally occurring species. I have no idea why we don’t use this tree more in the garden landscape. I just love it, and what is not to love. It is a small to medium sized, evergreen tree with beautiful foliage. The black berries are edible and make a delicious jam.


Talking of all things good this September, Heritage Day, 24th September falls on a Sunday, and so Monday the 25th September has been granted as a public holiday…yay! Another long weekend. Come and join us at Random Harvest, we’d love to see you in the nursery.


Freylinia tropica (White Honeybell Bush) A most rewarding shrub. It has a long flowering season, can be clipped and shaped, attracts birds and insects and is heat and drought tolerant – what more could a person want?

The first sign of spring, for me, are when the Celtis africana (White Stinkwood) start sprouting their delicate young leaves.

They adorn the tree, contrasting beautifully against the silvery stems, and are so fresh that they always help to lift my spirits.

Some of the Vygies are bearing their beautiful, glistening bright flowers at the moment.

The Malephora purpureo-crocea ‘Orange and Yellow’ (Copper Vygies) are both hardy and drought resistant with a spreading growth habit and grow to about 20cm tall. Their beautiful glistening flowers have purple undersides and open to coppery-orange or yellow in the sun. They flush in spring but have some flowers all year round. Remember to remove the dead flowers to encourage further flowering.

Lampranthus aureus An extremely hardy, neatly shaped succulent with attractive grey-green foliage that adds contrast to a succulent bed. The beautiful butter-yellow flowers are borne en masse in early spring and summer. Prune after flowering to keep in shape.

A little fascinating information on the dispersal of seeds in the Mesembryanthemaceae family. If you put a few drops of water on the top of the tough seed capsule it opens to disperse the seed.

In nature, this happens after rain has wet the capsule, giving the seeds a better chance at germination. They always hold some seeds back, and when it dries out, the capsule closes, waiting for the next rain.

Besides the spring flowering groundcovers and perennials, that are all coming into their own, the Aloes and succulents are looking magnificent.

They are just buzzing with insect life and shivering with the birds coming to feast on their nectar.

Finally, the Thunbergia alata (Black-eyed Susan).

The bounty of beautiful, large, trumpet-shaped flowers offered by this creeper are an ongoing joy throughout the year.

If it begins to look a little scruffy after a few years, cut it right back and it will send new and fresh shoots very quickly.

This cheerful creeper comes in a variety of colours.

SPECIAL ON FLOWERING-SIZE ORANGE CLIVIAS - R48.50 (in August and September only)

The special on our beautiful Clivia miniata is still on the go. They are magnificent flowering-size plants, in 15L bags.

The regular price for this size plant is R98.50, but these are on sale for only R48.50 each, while stocks last.

Please see our Plant catalogue (Hyperlink) for a full description and planting instructions.

WOMEN’S DAY - Wednesday, 9 August, 2017

Nothing could have prepared us for the wonderful turnout at Random Harvest Nursery and Tea Garden on Women’s Day!

Thank you to all those customers, new and old, that joined us. We hope the ladies that received their free Lachenalia get much joy from them.

Plant this Cape bulb in well-drained, friable but compost-rich soil, in dappled shade, where their beautiful colours can be enjoyed. Water regularly but don’t let them sit in water.


Wednesday, 9 August to Saturday, 30 September 2017
8am to 5pm daily
Johannesburg-based artist and ceramicist, Liz Warren opened her art exhibition here at Random Harvest Nursery on Women’s Day, 9th August. Her lovely works really brighten up the verandah. Please come and view her colourful, upbeat oil and water-colour paintings, depicting the floral richness of our country. She also has some of her ceramics on exhibition. You will be able to view and purchase these at Random Harvest until Saturday, the 30th of September.


Wed. 6 September @ 10.30am
No charge.
Come and share a cup of coffee or tea with me at our next coffee morning, while I chat about sewing indigenous seeds. Unlike seeds that are prepared with all sorts of chemicals to stimulate germination and growth, organic, unaltered, indigenous seeds are far more reliant on environmental cues to start growing.

I’ll be discussing seed harvesting, collection and storage, and then preparation for planting.

I’ll also cover suitable containers, growing mediums and at what stage your seedlings are ready to be planted out. Our monthly coffee mornings have grown in popularity, and I’m delighted that so many people are so passionate about our beautiful indigenous flora.


When: Saturday, 26 August 2017
Time: 07h00 for 07h30
Cost: R140 per person including breakfast
Booking is essential as we can only take the first 20 people who book.

We are delighted that Andre Marx will be conducting one of his ever-popular bird walks at Random Harvest Nursery this August.

We will welcome you with coffee and homemade biscuits. After the walk join Andre for a chat and delicious buffet breakfast of egg, bacon, sausages, fresh tomato, bread and jam, muesli, fresh fruit with hot or cold milk and tea or coffee.
Please wear suitable walking shoes, and a hat and sunscreen are recommended.

For more details please see our website, or contact us on 082 553 0598 / [email protected].

Domestic Gardeners Training
Starting time: 8h30
Date: 1st September
The courses include notes, breakfast and lunch and attendance certificate.


Easy Steps to Designing your Garden: Sat 2, Sept (08h30 – 12h30)

Easy Steps to Maintaining your Garden: Sat, 2 Sept (13h30 – 16h30)

Bookings: Contact Lindsay for bookings or further information on Mobile: +27 82 44 99 237 Email: [email protected]


I am sorry, but I have had to take the decision to no longer allow dogs at Random Harvest. A number of inconsiderate dog owners have ignored my repeated requests to keep their dogs quiet and on a leash. This has led to the dogs bothering other customers in the tea garden and nursery, damaging plants and relieving themselves in inappropriate places.

Should you have no choice but to have your dog accompany you, you are required to leave them in your vehicle in a shady parking spot.


You know spring has sprung when the Oak trees start opening their wonderful, tender new leaves.

I know they are exotic, but even I, couldn’t chop this oak tree down as it is more than 100 years old and really majestic.

I am trying a new, natural remedy for the sooty mould and aphids that attack the Oaks each year.

If you have this problem, I will keep you posted on how our trees are faring.

Another sign of spring is that the fruit trees are full of blossoms (and although another exotic tree, these are at least edible). They are really beautiful but ephemeral.

The bees are happy for the bounty of nectar and pollen the flowers offer. Busy bees mean, hopefully, lots of fruit for my Mom’s jam making.

Talking of bees, they have been busy collecting water in all the shallow edges of the ponds and the grind stones. I read that they use water to keep the hives cool. Apparently it takes 40 000 trips from water to the hive to collect 1 litre of water. How amazing, talk of busy bees.

Random Harvest is offering them a bounty of nectar and pollen at the moment with all the Aloes species in flower. Like this Aloe cryptopoda, they are in nursery bags and are just masses of flowers, with very busy bees, other insects and Sunbirds collecting their bounty.

I once read in an Aloe book that the nectar of Aloe castanea is poisonous. Apparently the birds, like these Cape White-Eyes, photographed here did not read the book. Other birds such as Mousebirds, Bulbuls and Sunbirds are also busily feeding on the flowers, as are well as a whole host of insects. I think they are one of the best Aloes for wildlife.

The huge Aloe marlothii in the retail nursery is in full flower. How lucky was Jeff to get a picture of the juvenile Black-headed Oriole feasting on the nectar on offer.

As you can see there have been many opportunities to photograph birds on the Aloes. This beautiful Amethyst Sunbird was feasting on the tall, gorgeous flowers of the Aloe pretoriensis.

Aloe flowering time is always a chance to see some beautiful sights of the wildlife that inhabit your garden.

I was thrilled to see the Fork-tailed Drongo again after some time. He is not normally resident but visits us from time to time and it is always a joy to watch him hawking insects.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher is very vocal in the garden at the moment, as are the Grey Hornbills. The calls of these two birds are so reminiscent of the Bushveld that they give the garden a whole different feel.

The Southern Red Bishop are all congregating at the dam. They haven’t started to change colour yet. The Masked Weaver in comparison, are already in full breeding colour.

Needless to say the Weavers are visiting the feeding table in droves and starting to cost a fortune in food. Not that I mind, I just love having them outside the door of my office. What a privilege it is to work in such a beautiful place.

The Wagtails are becoming resident at the dam. I love watching them march purposefully at the edge of the water and then pouncing on the insects. Jeff got this lovely picture of a Wagtail and its reflection.

The Hamerkop pair in the garden have finally finished their huge nest. I must tell you that they are litterbugs of note. They use old milk cartons, bits of plastic and any other bits and pieces that they can get their beaks on to build the nest.

My Mom’s garden looks a lot like a mini rubbish dump and we have to pick up what they have dropped at least twice a day to keep the garden looking tidy.

They have eaten all the fish in her pond in the garden and are starting with the ponds where the lilies are growing. Not that I mind, it is such a privilege to have them nesting in the garden.

This year there seem to be more beautiful butterflies around than normal. It may be that the Buddleja species have produced so many flowers this season. The butterflies are irresistibly drawn to their nectar. This Painted Lady Butterfly was constantly flitting around the Buddleja auriculata in the nursery.

I just loved the sun shining through the wings of this Common Dotted Border Butterfly.

The Blue Pansies are also out in force. By planting a simple ground cover like Asystasia gangetica (Creeping Foxglove), their larval food plant, you can ensure that they stay resident in your garden.

The other picture is of the underside of the Blue Pansy in its winter colour. It looks just like a dry leaf – wonderful camouflage.

The wonder of an indigenous garden is that you are rewarded with these little glimpses of sheer beauty all year round, such as the butterflies and this gorgeous Carpenter Bee.

I am always happy when I see the Orb Web Spiders in the nursery. It constantly validates the decision I made not to use harmful poisons in the nursery. It is because of this that we are constantly seeing interesting moments of the natural world going about the business of their lives.

You also get to see the interesting flowers in all their forms such as this Euphorbia species with its little cup-like flowers and stem that look as if they have been painted. They take the place of leaves for photosynthesis.

These little plants that look like tiny parasols are Liverworts - an ancient plant group. They grow in the moister areas of the nursery.

The fossil records show that they were some of the earliest plant colonisers. They reproduce by means of spores, as do mosses.

We are busy cutting veld grass on the farms around us to use for making compost. For me, there is no better smell than that of our homemade compost. It always makes me think of abundance and of plants growing and thriving. I love making and using our own compost, it is one of my favourite things to do in the nursery.

Talking of abundance, these veggies in Yolam’s hands come from our own garden and the vegetable display garden in the nursery. It is wonderful to be able to use some really fresh and naturally grown produce in the Tea Garden.

Abby decided that bird seed is yummy and started licking up the bird seed that the birds had dropped. She was starting to put on weight so I have had to put a little fence around the feeding station to keep her out. Amazing the things, one does for love!

How is this picture of sunrise at Random Harvest? I could be out in the bush far from Johannesburg. I am really blessed and grateful for this beautiful farm on which I live.

I hope you are enjoying your gardens. Take time to look at the burgeoning spring around you, it confirms how wonderful life is and renews our spirit.

Hope to see you in the nursery soon.



Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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

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