Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - June 2018

Posted On: Friday, June 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

We are a couple of weeks from the shortest day of the year, and I’m loving how the beautiful slanting winter sunshine bathes everything in a restful light. It somehow belies the fact that we’ve had an incredibly busy start to the year.

Autumn has been equally busy, and for that I am so grateful to my customers. Chilly or not, the nursery is looking gorgeous with lots of colour and humming with life.  

Wherever my latest newsletter finds you, I hope you’re warm … and still have dirt under your fingernails from a happy day in the garden.

A reminder that Saturday June the 16th (Youth Day) is a public holiday and we are open.

To create a festive feel in the front of the nursery for Mother’s Day, we pulled a variety of flowering plants from all over the growing section and placed them together to give a beautiful celebration of colour. 

It not only looks lovely, but the pollinating insects are busy there like there is no tomorrow.


The Manicured Bird-friendly Garden has settled well, and is looking lovely. 

As you can see from the picture the birds are beginning to use it as their favourite place. 

For more information on how we set the garden up, please click here.

In The Shop

We’ve stocked up on products that protect and sustain your indigenous garden through the cold and dry conditions of winter.

Frost cover – to protect your sensitive plants from freezing. We sell it in sheets of 3m by 10m.

Agrisil – This is a highly soluble liquid formulation of potassium silicate designed to support plant immunity and stress tolerance. It works both for drought and cold stress.

Frost Booklet – This charmingly illustrated little booklet is packed with information on frost hardy plants and tips for looking after your garden and its plants through winter.

Eco-T – This formulation contains a variety of beneficial microbes that help to decay dead organic matter, making the nutrients in it available to growing plants. Some of the microbes also promote healthy root growth, thereby improving plants’ ability to take up nutrients and therefore their health and vigour.



Monthly Coffee morning – Aloes
Wednesday 6th June
Cost: Free of charge, but we would love you to support our indigenous nursery and tea garden
What to bring: A notebook and a friend

I don’t know who’s happier that it’s Aloe season – me or the gazillions of insects and birds that are ready from first light to tuck into the supply of pollen and sweet nectar.

June’s coffee morning is all about Aloes, planting them and how to care for them. We will also chat about placing rocks, and maintenance of succulents in the garden.

Mike and Jonathan will join us for this discussion on how to plant up Aloes in the garden and in containers, as form or feature plants.; They will also talk about using lipids for Rust. We will meet at the succulent garden behind the office.

Wednesday 4th July
Monthly Coffee Morning – Preparing your garden for spring
Points covered in this discussion will include when to start watering, colourful perennials, pruning trees and shrubs, compost and fertiliser application in the new growing season.

Bird walks

With Andre Marx or Lia Steen
Dates: June 23rd and July 21st Time: 07h30 for 08h00
RSVP: [email protected] or call 082 553 0598 to book your spot as soon as possible as these walks book up so fast.
Bring: Binoculars, Walking shoes, A hat and sunscreen
Cost: R155.00 including a buffet breakfast

Join our regular bird walk with either Andre Marx or Lia Steen to discover some of the over 160 delightful South African Bird Species that share this farm with us. This is a wonderful time of year to go birding, as there are so many species to be seen.


Father’s Day – Sunday, 17th June 2018

Random Harvest has a free gift for all Dads visiting the nursery on their special day. If your Dad would like to be treated, please note the special offerings in our tea garden on this day:

08h00 – 11h30 Breakfast Buffet ONLY (i.e. no breakfast from the menu). A mouth-watering spread of Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom, tomato, toast, as well as yoghurt, muesli and fruit, as well as delicious bran muffins. All this, including fruit juice and tea or coffee for only R155.00 per person.

14h00 – 16h30 High Tea - a delectable array of treats as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat. Including fruit juice and tea or coffee, for only R160.00 per person.
Booking only.
Contact Ashley on 011 957-5356 to reserve your space.


11h30 – 16h30 Order from the menu

Drinks and cake off the menu will be available all day

For Gardeners and their employers: A tour of the nursery and how it works.

  Date: 23rd June, 2018
Cost: R70 per person, including coffee and refreshment.
To Book: [email protected] or call 082 553 0598

We encourage garden owners with a love of indigenous plants to bring their gardener and spend a morning exploring Random Harvest Nursery with us. We’ll show you and your gardener what we do and how we do it. Don’t miss out on this fun and informative morning.

There will also be a few lucky draws with great prizes, including a Gardener’s course with Lindsay Gray.

Lindsay Gray - Domestic Gardener & Gardening Workshops

There will be no School of Garden Design courses in June and July. These will resume in August as follows:

Friday, 3 August
Domestic Gardener Training (employers welcome to attend)

Saturday, 4 August
08h30 – 12h30
Easy Steps to Designing your Garden
13h30 – 16h30
Easy Steps to Maintaining your Garden

Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for further details and to book your place.

Tea Garden

Cosy up to a warm fire in the gazebo or on the patio outside the office, and enjoy a steaming cup of tea or coffee when you visit the nursery. Our fireplaces go all day when the weather is chilly.

Are your children or grandchildren writing exams this term? Bring them to Random Harvest and whilst you browse for plants, school children and students can enjoy taking a study break or come and work under the trees, with a delicious cup of hot chocolate. 

All students and scholars pay R5 less for hot chocolate from 4 to 29 June. Valid Mondays to Fridays, not on Saturdays and Sundays.


We have revamped the interior of Lavender Tree Cottage, and I love the bright, fresh look of it. 

This and our 7 other cottages offer comfortable, value for money accommodation that is peaceful and ideal for getting away from the stresses of city life. For information on our cottages please see our website.



I love this picture of a corner of Wild Olive Cottage garden. 

It is a really peaceful spot to read, meditate or just be.


In The Nursery

Garden Tips

How to use Agrisil. Dissolve 4ml Agrisil in 10L of Water whilst stirring (or 20ml Agrisil per 50L of water). You can use this as either a foliar spray or a soil drench. Water your garden with this mix at least once a month but preferably twice in autumn and winter

There is still time to plant Namaqualand Daisies, but this needs to be done by 7th June latest. Prepare and rake the soil where you will plant them. 

Scatter the seed evenly and then gently rake the area so that the soil just covers the seed. Some of the seed will still be exposed, but this will be buried when you water. 

Until the seeds germinate, water daily, and then once they are robust seedlings, water once a week to every 10 days.


Shot Hole Borer

We are awaiting the results of tests being done on the use of lipids to halt the infestation of Shot hole borer in trees.

If you have not already heard about this highly destructive Beetle and its associated fungi, please read the article on our website by Mike Viviers, our plant growing specialist.

An update will be published once we have more conclusive results on treating infestations with lipids.

Plants Looking Good

The plants are looking so amazing at this time of year. The Aloes in particular are spectacular.


Aloe arborescens - Krantz Aloe (E); Kransaalwyn (A)

This is probably one of the easiest and most spectacular to grow. When it is in bloom it is patrolled all day by Sunbirds. The huge flowers also attract many insects.

Plant as a specimen or in groups if you have space. (Spectacular, as you can see from the picture)

The colours are very variable and you get beautiful yellow and also red forms.

It is hard to choose which Aloes to highlight at this time of year.


Aloe tenuior

A most useful and attractive Aloe which can be trained as a climber along a fence is Aloe tenuior. 

This hardy Aloe bears flowers for most of the year. 

It can also be pruned to be a free standing shrub. It will also will flower in some shade although not all day shade. 

I love this feature with the free standing shrublike one appearing behind the rock.


Oscularia cedarbergensis - Vyebos (A)

A fairly flat succulent with grey, triangular, fleshy leaves and pink stems. 

As you can see from the picture the butterflies love the pink glistening flowers as well. 

They are beautiful growing in amongst rocks and make good container plants.


Carpobrotus muirii - Dwarf Sour Fig (E); Dwergsuurvy (A)

I have spoken of this lovely succulent before but it is worth another mention as it has a long flowering period with beautiful large magenta flowers. 

Added to this its fruits are edible. Its creeping habit provides habitat for lizards and toads and the flowers attract butterflies. 

What more could one want from a plant.


Another beautiful succulent is

Crassula arborescens - Tree Crassula (E); Beestebal (A)

This large succulent has beautiful grey, fleshy leaves with a red rim and clusters of pink or white flowers. 

It makes a beautiful container plant. It will grow in some shade but flowers best, with dense clusters pink or white flowers, in the sun.

The flowers attract insects and butterflies to the garden. It can grow to 3m tall but I have never seen this. I am going to try and grow them into a tree shape in the future.


Hypericum revolutum - Curry Bush (E); Kerriebos (A)

I have to talk about at least one non-succulent plant this month and have chosen the beautiful Hypericum revolutum - Curry Bush (E); Kerriebos (A).

This moisture loving shrub has bright green foliage that is an attractive feature and it will also grow in some shade. It bears cheerful, large, yellow flowers with fluffy stamens arranged neatly along the stems almost all year round.

Do prune it fairly regularly to keep it in shape. This plant is said to be the protector of the forest as it is fire resistant and grows along the margins helping to slow or stop fires.

Plants On Special This Month – Less 15%

Our two plants on special this month are …

Terminalia phanerophlebia - Lebombo Clusterleaf (E); Lebombotrosblaar (A)

A beautiful medium-sized tree with a pagoda shape and beautiful unusual olive – khaki green leaves that are clustered along the branches. 

The white flowers are held in clusters of upright spikes like candles. 

This tree looks mystical in the dusk, especially in winter when the leaves become a dark Khaki-green colour.


Aloe cryptopoda [=wickensii] - Geelaalwyn (A)

This hardy Aloe has a single, large, stemless, densely-leaved rosette of grey-green, succulent leaves. 

The flowers are variable and may be red, yellow or bi-coloured yellow and red.

Depending on conditions, flowering time can vary between May and July. 

The many Sunbirds that visit to feed on the nectar are an added attraction. It also attracts insects to the garden. 

Makes an attractive form plant and also looks good planted in containers.


On The Farm

Wasn’t the rain we had amazing? This picture is of a misty morning in the beautiful soft winter light. What a way to start a day with views like this.


We not only had a downpour of about 25mm in about 10 minutes but it came with its share of hail. I don’t mind the tiny hail as it does a lot of good for the plants.

This is not a view of the nursery one expects to see in winter.

Driving in the grassland in the early morning after the rain, I saw thousands of spider webs glistening like diamonds in the grass. It just goes to show how much life there is in a grassland that we don’t even notice.


Talking about not noticing things, the world of insects is just opening up to me, and Oh my Goodness! I am so excited that Mike Picker is helping with the identification of the many insects on Random Harvest. It is certainly fascinating me and helping to open my eyes to more wonderful creatures that share this beautiful planet with us.

The answers from Mike are as follows:

“Moth pupa. Many moths spin a loose or finely woven cocoon around the pupa, but others have a naked pupa. The cocoon protects the pupa from attack by tiny parasitic wasps (the majority of pupa get parasitized and never emerge as moths) – their stings cannot reach the pupa.

In those with naked pupae (such as cutworms) the pupa has sharp cutting edges to the different segments, and can trap the wasp’s sting.


“This is an example of a moth that spins a cocoon around the pupa. With over 20 000 species of moths in South Africa, it’s impossible to identify them just by looking at the cocoon.

There is a caterpillar rearing group which has a fantastic Facebook site – with volunteers rearing caterpillars and linking them to the moth that emerges from the cocoon.

One has to be very careful to feed them on leaves of the same plant on which they were collected, as most caterpillars are very fussy about their food plant.”

It may be of interest for you to join this Facebook group.


“Many beetles have larvae that live and grow in live or dead wood. 

Some are very fussy and will only attack weak and dying trees. 

Generally, they do not injure the tree, but in some cases such as the Fig borer (Phryneta spinator) they can kill the host tree.

The larvae are slow-growing because of the poor nutritive quality of the wood, and may take years to develop into the adult beetle. 

These larvae will turn into Long-horn beetles (family Cerambycidae)”

Talking of insects there is a huge the variety of butterflies flitting in the nursery and grassland. The Painted Lady is perched on an Oscularia cedarbergensis sipping at the nectar.


I am not sure what the Eyed Pansy is looking for in the grass but I think it was sipping at the droplets of water on the grass.

I am not sure if the hail helped, but the plants are looking amazing, especially the Aloes.

The Aloe barberae (Tree Aloe) are in full bloom with their attendant birds.


This Bulbul had his head deep in each flower to take advantage of the delicious nectar.

At any time of the day there are Sunbirds sipping at this nectar.


The White-bellied Sunbird was enjoying the nectar of Aloe fosteri. While the Amethyst Sunbird pegged the Red Hot Pokers as his favourite feast of nectar.

The Speckled Mousebirds are patrolling all the Aloe species. Here they are congregated on an Aloe marlothii. I think they enjoy basking in the sun atop the Aloes as much as they enjoy eating the flowers and sipping the nectar.

I think the birds are confused by the weather as much as we and the plants are. On the last bird walk they saw Striped Swallow. They should have left ages ago for warmer climes. Mmmm! Not sure what to make of this.


As you can see from this picture of the Hamerkop’s nest they are great collectors of litter.


Jeffrey thought that the Hadeda Ibis had taken over the Hamerkop nest but we learned from Lia Steen at the last bird walk that they in fact nest on top of the Hamerkops nest. Interesting.

Quite a few birds are becoming more visible and more vocal. I think that they are more visible because the trees have lost their leaves.


I am always happy to see the Brown-hooded Kingfisher and the Grey Hornbill. They both have such amazing calls which always put a smile on my face when I hear them.

The Groundscraper Thrush always seem to appear in winter. I love these beautifully marked, busybody, little bird that scratch around in the nursery. I also love their calls.


We saw the Burchells Coucal down at the dam. It is the first time I have seen him there. He is normally skulking around in the thick bush in the garden.

The dam still has a lot of water in it from the last rain. When it is this full we normally see the ducks. We have seen both Yellow-billed and White –faced Duck on the dam. Unfortunately, they took off before I could get a picture of them.

The Blacksmith Lapwings are enjoying strutting along and poking around in the mud flats that have been created by the receding water.


I am always happy to see the Purple Heron skulking along the edges of the dam as it means he has lots to eat and therefore the dam must be in good shape to provide habitat for the many birds and other creatures that use it.

I should mention that I saw a Spoonbill at the dam. The picture I took was horrible. They normally use the dam at this time of year but this year I have only seen the one. 

I think the dam is too full for them – not sure. I will ask Andre when he comes to lead the next bird walk this month.

It is always great to see the wildlife using the habitat we have created in the displays in the nursery.


This Skink has taken up residence in the Succulent Display.

After the rain I decided to go and weed the grassland again. I drive down there and get grumpy as I thought the staff had just up and left. I called Meshack to moan and then had to laugh. The grass is so high and so thick that they were all busy but hidden by the grass. Was my face red.

Do yourself a favour and look up. The sky has been absolutely amazing this last month. It makes you feel really insignificant amongst all this grandeur. When you think about how everything is so beautiful and works so well together you just have to believe in the wisdom of nature.


I thought I would make you jealous with this beautiful sunrise. 

This is the type of view that greets me each morning on my way to work. Aren’t I the lucky one.

Enjoy the soft light and beautiful days of winter. 

And remember that one can garden year-round ... so I’m looking forward to seeing you at Random Harvest Nursery soon!



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