Random Harvest Newsletter Archive

Random Harvest Newsletter - July 2018

Posted On: Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

July, the month of shadows. What a magical time. Deciduous trees cast beautiful shadows against the wall and on roads beneath them. I particularly love the dappled, shadowed dirt road on the farm in July.

It reminds me of times when most of the roads here were dirt and folk just seemed to take life at a slightly slower, more relaxed and friendlier pace.

That is part of what I love to share with my customers, and it warms my heart to see people come into the nursery and visibly shed that mantle of stress.

Funny thing about indigenous plants ... leaves or no leaves, it just feels wonderful to be surrounded by them and the garden wildlife they support.

In The Nursery


We have featured some of our really magnificent 100L trees at the front of the nursery. Around them, we have beautified the area by adding colourful suggestions for underplanting. I am delighted at how lovely it looks.

Please ask at reception if you purchase one of these larger trees – we do have a planting service available, price on request.

Child Safety

My staff have noticed a number of children left to their own devices whilst parents enjoy chatting in the tea garden.

We love that these little ones visit us and enjoy the beauty of the nursery, but ask that for their safety, you please keep them away from the water features and give them a few pointers before they leave your side.

Our plants are for sale, not for picking the flowers (some plants are thorny and could inflict quite a bit of pain), the sandpit is not for tipping into the wildlife pond, and the ponds are not for swimming or wading in. We reserve them for the fish, frogs, dragonflies and other water orientated wildlife that we love having in the nursery.

Lucky Draw

A sincere thank you to all who generously gave donations to stand a chance of winning Heather’s watercolour painting of Felicia amelloides. Congratulations to Anne Muir, ticket no. 017 who will be taking it home with her!

Donald is delighted that he has a little extra to put into the fund for the house he would like to start as a place of safety once the young people have to leave the security of the shelter. The existing shelter is only available to them until they reach 18 years old.


Monthly Coffee Mornings

Date: Wednesday, 4 July, 2018
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Topic: Preparing your garden for Spring

I am often asked when to start with the Spring gardening activities.

This coffee morning will give useful pointers on when to start watering, indigenous colourful perennials that one can include in the garden, secrets to successful pruning of trees and shrubs for the onset of the growing season, and the use of compost and fertiliser.

Bring your questions, a notepad and a friend for a great morning of gardening inspiration.

No charge and no need to book. We just ask that you support our nursery and / or tea garden.

Date: Wednesday, 1 August, 2018
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Topic: Lawns
Preparing your lawn for summer and how to change from the invasive Kikuyu lawn to LM Lawn without disrupting your garden.

Date: Saturday, 21 July 2018 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.

Lindsay Gray Courses

A reminder that Lindsay Gray’s Gardening Courses resume in August.

Friday, 3 August, 2018
Day, Date
Practical Training for Domestic Gardeners 08h30 - 15h45
Saturday, 4 August, 2018
Easy Steps to Designing your Garden - 08h30 - 12h30
Easy Steps to Maintaining your Garden- 13h30 - 16h30

To book, or for further information, contact Lindsay on [email protected]; Cell : 082 44 99 237


June saw the start of our Grounds Staff Workshops, the first taking place at Darrenwood Retirement Village. The workshops are aimed at encouraging grounds staff to be aware of their important role in creating a beautiful and healthy environment in the grounds under their care.

Included in the package, is a Series of three talks, an onsite walk and talk with advice on how to increase the indigenous plant component of the gardens, as well as tips on sustainable and environmentally sound gardening practices and garden maintenance. This will be followed by a “talk and tour” of Random Harvest Nursery.

The first workshop went extremely well, and Jeff did us proud with his passion for indigenous gardening and all its advantages.

Growing Section

Much cleaning and sprucing up and sorting out has been happening in the growing section of Random Harvest. A good clean is so energising and I am delighted that the plants are looking great.

It is the time of year to get the spring feeling as we have passed mid-winter and spring is just around the corner.


Bargain Corner

We have introduced a bargain area in the retail nursery, where you can pick up fantastically priced plants. After all the cleaning in the nursery we have found that we have over produced some species and these will be offered for sale. Come along and pick out some great bargains for spring.

Plants On Special This Month – July Tree Planting – 10% Discount

Since this is a really great time of year to plant trees I thought we would offer a 10% discount on all trees purchased in July.

Hopefully this encourages you to plant more indigenous trees that will attract all kinds of wildlife to your garden.

A garden without trees is really not a pleasant place be in or use, especially in summer when the trees cool us down and create atmosphere in a garden.

Gladiolus dalenii - African Gladiolus (E); Papegaai-gladiolus (A)

We have packets of dry bulbs of this magnificent bulbous plant. It is very hardy and bears spikes of intense, orange-red flowers with a yellow throat.

It is a very easy plant to grow and will happily multiply in your garden. They are worth planting if only for the beautiful cut flowers for your home.


Good news for all who stay or have stayed in the Bed and Breakfast Cottages – we have reinstalled DSTV. You can now stay with us and still enjoy your favourite programs.

We recently hosted a family get together in Wild Olive Cottage Garden, where some of the family members were staying in the cottages.

What a wonderful idea if you have travelled far for a short while, and have lots of people to catch up with.

If you’d like to keep up with news on our comfy guest cottages, please like our Cottages Facebook Page here:

In The Garden – Monthly Gardening Tips

July traditionally marks the onset of a very dry few months ahead. The garden starts to look a bit bedraggled by both the cold and dry weather, but don’t be tempted to water too much – you’re likely to do more damage than good. Water your garden once a week only, or less if it is shady – perhaps once every two weeks or so.

Avoid raking up all the dead leaves, as they are invaluable mulch in your flower beds. Perhaps remove most of them from your lawn, but pop them in your flower beds to cover the soil. They will protect the plant roots and keep moisture in the soil. Remember to mulch your container plants as well.

Mid July you should cut your grasses right back and remove the thatch.

This ensures beautiful grasses and a healthy meadow garden in summer.

Plants Looking Good

Aloe vanbalenii - Van Balen's aloe (E); Van-balen-se-aalwyn (A)

The winter colours of this branched Aloe are really beautiful with their red-edged leaves and spikes of yellow flowers that are much loved by insects and sunbirds.

It branches out close to the ground and the final height is only 80cm to 1m.

A beautiful addition to a succulent garden or used as a container plant.

Buddleja auriculata - Eared Sagewood (E); Treursalie (A)

I know I keep mentioning this hardy, floriferous shrub but truly who can resist these flowers and their delicious scent that wafts through the garden in the depths of winter. It is also a bonus for the butterflies who crowd around the flowers. Remember to prune it after flowering to keep it in shape.

Cunonia capensis - Red Alder (E); Rooiels (A).

A truly beautiful tree with its spoon shaped stipules and red petioles on the large compound leaves which make it a wonderful foliage plant.

The bottle-brush like flowers are beautiful in their own right and have the added bonus of attracting butterflies and other insects.

Plant in semi-shade or in containers for a rewarding plant.

Vepris lanceolata - White Ironwood (E); Witysterhout (A)

This beautiful rounded, medium-sized tree has bright apple green foliage. It bears sprays of white flowers that are followed by bunches of seed that slowly ripen and turn black in winter providing fruit for birds.

The petioles of the fruit always have aphids on them.

The aphids only seem to stay on the petioles, and infect nothing else, but they do provide food for sunbirds and Cape White-eyes throughout the winter.

A beautiful specimen or avenue tree.

Lobelia anceps - Swamp Lobelia (E)

The delicate look of this plant belies how tough it is.

It grows in moist areas around a pond or in a normally irrigated garden.

It also looks great planted in containers at the base of other plants.

Arctotis hybrid Bush Red.

It is the time of year for the Arctotis to start coming into flower.

They are always so rewarding adding dramatic colours to the garden after winter when we all crave some colour in our lives.

The contrast with the grey foliage is also a beautiful feature of this plant.

On The Farm

The farm is so special with its own beauty for each season. I am really enjoying the grassland even in its dry state. I am enjoying my last few days of it as I now have to mow it as it is becoming a fire hazard.

In any case, cutting and raking of the grass will ensure we are able to see the wildflowers in spring.

it amazes me that people say grassland is boring and brown. This picture of the grassland shows how beautiful the textures and winter colours are.


The beehives are thriving on the farm.

Jeff says that the honey the bees make from the Aloe greatheadii flowers is delicious.

Needless to say we now have to go on a mission to plant more of these lovely little Aloes that light up the veld in winter.



You can see why the hives are thriving when you see the amount of pollen in this bee’s pollen sacs.

Thanks to all the beautiful indigenous plants that support them.


The Slender Mongoose have taken up residence in the grassland. I have to spot them before Abby does as she immediately sees them as prey. She never chases the birds only the Mongoose.

When Abby chases the Mongoose my Mom doesn’t mind, she is always trying to outwit him and stop him stealing her turkey and chicken eggs.

You can see where the common name of Acacia ataxacantha – Flame Pod comes from.

These red pods are adorning the trees in the barrier at the moment and when the sun is behind them they do look likes flames in the tree.


Things have been very quiet at the dam although I was really thrilled to see this little Three Banded Plover hunting in the mud around the edges.

He stayed around for about 2 weeks.


The birds have been busy this month and seem to becoming more visible. I think this is in preparation for spring.

The Brown-hooded Kingfisher visited our bird feeding table. This picture is of him picking insects up in the grass we use for the compost.

The Black-collared Barbets are regularly feasting on the fruit we are offering. Small price to pay for such a blessing just outside my office door

The Tawny-flanked Prinia are also getting very active. Can’t wait to start looking for their tiny nests in the dense shrubs/

The Southern Bou-bou have also come out of hiding and are regularly visiting the table. They are always visible and vocal at this time of year.

Talk about vocal I heard a Fiery-necked Nightjar in the area for the first time the other night. Hopefully I get to hear them more and actually see one on the farm so I can add it to our bird list.

On the subject of unusual bird sightings, Jeffrey got this picture of a female Wattled Starling sitting with a Cape Glossy Starling. I am jealous as I did not see it.

The Fork-tailed Drongo is back. Perching on the fences hawking for insects.

When I see the Cape Robin Chat foraging around in the garden I am so pleased we use mulch which provides a rich hunting ground for him.

When tree stumps start breaking down they are also a rich source of food for the Green Hoopoe.

This bunch were feasting on centipedes and numerous other insects.

Talking of wood breaking down there have been a few really interesting bracket fungi around. Jeff took the pictures last month but we are still trying to get an ID.

Excitingly, one of them seems to be a new species. Random Harvest is a really interesting place.

These little Gnome hats with spaghetti underneath are the possible new species.

This colourful bracket fungus is a Phelinus species. One doesn’t expect to see so many colours on one of them. I did show you the picture in May but did not have the name.

This interesting soccer ball shaped one is a Calvatia species.

I suppose I am now going to have to go down the road of learning more about all the interesting fungi and their place in the ecology.

Jeff and I have been so busy with the cleaning of the nursery that we haven’t got many pictures of insects. So I will share these few with you and once again thanks a million to Mike Picker for the ID and information.

I have often tried to find out what these hairy caterpillars are that march along the Searsia (Rhus) branches. It took Mike a few minutes to solve the mystery for me.

Mike replies

“Searsia trees across South Africa are often stripped bare by large aggregations of hairy caterpillars. These are the larvae of the Pepper Tree moth (Bombycomorpha pallida) that live in silken tents, often festooned with their droppings.

Defoliated trees recover the following season. The stubby-winged adults are white, with a black spot on each forewing.”


Two bugs


“Sunflower seed bugs (Agonoscelis versicoloratus) are a small variety of stinkbug that occur in the moister parts of South Africa, where they feed on a wide range of developing seeds (ovules) which they suck dry using a long proboscis. A pest of sunflower, millet and sorghum crops, they can feed on a very wide range of plants, targeting the soft, developing ovules.”

Green caterpillar

“The smooth, lime green larvae of the Citrus swallowtail (Papilio demodocus) will feed on a range of trees and shrubs in the citrus family (Rutaceae). While most common on lemon trees, they can also be found on indigenous Rutaceae, including the Cape Chestnut. When touched the larvae evert two orange forks from the head, which release a pungent secretion of chemical sequestered from their host plant.”


Winter is such a stunning and colourful time in the garden when you plant succulents. I thought I would share some pictures of just how beautiful the succulents are and how amazing the leaf colours are.


Sometimes there are common plants that you seem to overlook like this beautiful little groundcover, Aptenia cordifolia.

Once you really look at it again you see just how beautiful it is with its fresh green leaves and glistening dark cerise flower and you just fall in love with it again.



Of course the Aloes are also looking quite amazing and providing lots of pollen and nectar for the insects.


I feel so privileged that this dove feels so comfortable in the succulent display at the entrance to the nursery that he decided to take a snooze.

How is that for knowing just how much you are loved and respected at Random Harvest.


The rare and unusual Haemanthus deformis are blooming as well. How beautiful is this white flower with its bright green edges? Indigenous plants are always full of surprises.


The saga of the budgie at Random Harvest continues.

After buying him a beautiful cage and a new mate the budgie escaped again.

The pretty yellow wife I bought him was lost without him and as we were unable to catch him I had to go and buy her a beautiful blue mate.

Who would have thought I would be the custodian of budgies?


This is probably one of the last sunrise pictures for this year as pretty soon I will be coming to the nursery when it is fully light and not dark as it is at the moment at 6h00. How quickly time flies – soon we will be in spring.

I can’t wait to see everything sprouting ready for summer.

Look forward to seeing you soon




Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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

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