Random Harvest Newsletter - December 2018

Posted On: Saturday, December 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Can you believe it is the last newsletter for 2018? Time really flies especially when you are having fun. And fun I certainly have been having!

There is so much life in the nursery at the moment that everywhere I look, I see something exciting – bugs, birds, butterflies and so much more.

And to watch the plants just about grow under my nose after the long slow period in winter, is to me, the most rewarding of all.

I am just hanging in there though, for some rain.

Let’s hope December brings with it some welcome and long overdue showers.

Before I get started, I must remind you of the public holidays and when we are closed and open.
Sunday 16th and Monday 17th December (Day of Reconciliation) – OPEN
25 December (Christmas Day) – CLOSED
26 December (Boxing Day) – CLOSED
1 January, 2019 (New Year's Day) – CLOSED
2 January, 2019 – Open For Business As Usual ... Our Wonderful New Year Has Started!

In The Nursery

The holiday season and Christmas has always been a happy time for me, and we decorate the nursery from November onwards, in anticipation of seeing people get into the holiday spirit. We hope your visits to the retail Nursery over the next couple of months help to refresh and inspire you during this “silly season”.

The excitement of the birds over our ‘Christmas tree for the birds’ is very entertaining to watch.

I overheard one of our customers say “I thought this was a Bed and Breakfast for people but it looks as if it is for the birds.”

For our gardening customers, we have some very lovely plants and gardening items to help you “lose” yourself in your garden this holiday season.


Creature Tree

Bring the children along to ‘Spot the creature in the tree’ and then bring their form to reception and collect their Christmas present.

In The Shop

Our shop is bursting with some lovely goodies, from books and kids craft kits to ceramics and jewellery.

Here are some of the items in stock at the moment:

New Tree Guide To The Magaliesburg

This little guide (perfect to slip into a pocket or backpack) provides valuable information of the trees of the Magaliesburg. Hikers, rock climbers, tourists, students and farmers that are interested in finding out more about the natural heritage of this fascinating mountain range will appreciate the clear photographs and interesting information provided in this guide.

Kids craft kits – these nature-based kits include materials and a set of easy to follow instructions. It’s a lovely creative way to spend time with your little one, or something that can be enjoyed independently by older children.

Ceramics in pretty colours are in stock at the moment, including planters, coffee mugs and snack dishes.


Jewellery - I am so in love with these beautiful necklaces – dainty and feminine. We have drop earrings from the same artist, in beautiful colours.

Christmas decorations for the birds are a hot item in our shop this December. These make lovely unusual gifts, and the birds snap up the treats that they hold as fast as they are supplied!


Events

As it has been so dry, once again, I am postponing the Grassland Walk as it is almost crispy underfoot.

Instead, Peter Webb, who developed the bee hotels, an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker, has agreed to do a talk about appreciating the hardworking bees in our gardens.

Wednesday, 5th December
Topic: TheBee friendly garden.
Time: 10h30 – 12h00

Cost: Free – we just ask that you support our nursery and / or tea garden while you are here.

Peter Webb and I will be talking about bees in the garden – both colony and solitary bees. Peter will focus on providing shelter for bees, and the types of bees you may find in the garden, whilst I will chat about some of our valuable food plants for bees. It promises to be a wonderful morning, so bring a friend and I look forward to seeing you there.

Tree Walk and Talk

Saturday 22 December, 2018

Time: 09h00 – 11h30 ; Cost: R110 per person – includes an informative booklet and refreshment.

My staff and I will be conducting a walk around part of Random Harvest Farm, talking about some of our favourite trees and their life stories. If you were planning on planting a tree in your garden, this is a great way to get to see them in situ, mostly fully grown.

For people who find standing for long periods challenging, we will provide seating at the various trees we stop at.

Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat.

Bird Walks

Junior / Novice bird walk (12 years old and up)
Date: Wednesday, 19th December (midweek)
Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 sharp.
Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (details on our website listing of the events)

Lia Steen will lead this bird walk. It promises to be a great holiday activity for children (12 years and older) with or without a parent.

If you also love our feathered friends, spend a morning with your youngsters out in nature, learning about the birds at Random Harvest. A bird list is provided to tick off the species that are spotted.

Date: Saturday, 29th December

Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 sharp.

Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (details on our website listing of the events)

Andre Marx leads this walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. A diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing a wide variety of the 165 bird species spotted here. A bird list is supplied for you to tick off the species that you see.

Albertina Sisulu Orchid Crowdfunding

Just a reminder about this very worthwhile cause. Even a donation of R50 can make a huge difference.

Help to protect the Sugarbush Ridge through this amazing initiative. Random Harvest has donated R5000.00 and would like to ask you to donate whatever you can afford “To save the Black Eagles of Roodekrans and the unique Albertina Sisulu Orchid, we need to regulate our collective human footprint on the Sugarbush Ridge Ecosystem.

To achieve this is in such a highly urbanized and densely populated area we all have to work together as a community, so that we can enjoy and appreciate this valuable natural asset without destroying it in the process.”

Read more about this initiative here

Tea Garden Specials

For all Tea Garden bookings and enquiries, please contact our hospitality team on [email protected] or call 011 957 5356.

For the month of December, we are running a High Tea in the garden special strictly by booking only. For only R125.00 per person, indulge in a mouth-watering tea-time feast, which includes Apple crumble, Chocolate cake, Pear and almond tart, Sausage rolls, Filled croissant, Spinach quiche, and Tea, Plunger coffee and Juice.

Summer time would not be the same without it – we are now selling ice cream and frozen yoghurt

For the month of December, we are offering a Buffet breakfast in the garden – strictly by booking only. This great value meal at R120 per person, includes: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Pork or Beef Sausage, Sliced Tomato Creamed Mushroom, Muesli with milk or yogurt, Fruit salad, Cocktail Rolls, Butter and Jams, Tea, Coffee, Water Jugs and Orange Juice.

So come hungry and ready for a delightful alfresco breakfast with friends and family.

Bed And Breakfast Cottages

We recently had the pleasure of hosting guests from Germany, who were so very complimentary about their accommodation and the staff that they came into contact with.

It always makes my heart happy when we give a good impression of this wonderful country that we live in.

Please remember our mid-week special for cottage-stays here at Random Harvest. Stay from Sunday to Thursday in one of our 8 lovely cottages, and receive a 15% discount for one night, and a 20% discount on a stay of two or more nights.

To take advantage of this fantastic offer, please call David or Paul on 072 562 3396 or email [email protected] This special applies only to bookings made directly with Random Harvest.

In The Garden – Tips For A Garden Fit For Christmas

Are you entertaining in your garden this Christmas? Here are a few tips to help your family and friends have the best garden party ever.

  • Prune hanging branches over or near pathways so that guests do not walk into them (especially after a glass of bubbly or two!)
  • Keep pathways swept of debris that can become slippery if there is a shower of rain.
  • Light pathways at night, so that guests can navigate their way to and from the house.
  • Place bins (or empty planters as bins) in accessible places. Make sure you have two bins – one for recycleables and one for waste that cannot be recycled.
  • Keep decorations for tables and trees as natural as possible. Sprays of garden flowers, leaves, twigs and natural twine are all beautiful on a Christmas table. Keep non-recyclable decorations to a minimum, and try and select those that can be used year after year.
  • Create a Christmas tree for the birds – with edible treats that they will find irresistible. Great entertainment for you and your guests and a welcome treat for the birds.
  • Keep a basket of towels outside for pool-time, so that wet bodies don’t lay a watery trail through your house. Also keep a bottle of sunscreen close at hand on the patio – for while you are gardening as well as for swimming.

Plants On Special

Keeping it light and bright, our plants on special this month are various shades of cream and yellow - Buddleja saligna (False Olive) 100l has beautiful puffs of delicate, cream coloured flowers that butterflies find irresistible,


Bauhinia tomentosa (Yellow Bauhinia) is a shrub with gorgeous lemon yellow flowers hiding a chocolate brown centre.


Dietes bicolor (Yellow Wild Iris) is such a happy looking plant, with beautiful light yellow flowers that seem to dance in the breeze, on the ends of delicate stems.

A wonderful plant for mass plantings.

Read more about all of these plants on our website’s Plant Catalogue. Not much of a web person? Me too…so I have a few plant catalogues on sale in our little shop. If you don’t spot them, please ask at reception.

Plants Looking Good

Coleonema pulchellum – Confetti Bush (E)

A celebration of soft, starry pink flowers in winter and spring, this hardy, evergreen shrub is a delight for sunny areas. Bees of all description love to visit the flowers, and it is a lovely fine foliage at a very convenient mid-height, for a tiered planting (80cm to 1m). Plant in well-drained, well-composted soil.

Pelargonium sidoides - Kalwerbossie (A)

A hardy, evergreen perennial that makes a great container plant. It has thickened underground, tuber-like roots, and somewhat "frilly", beautiful, felted, grey-green leaves. The decorative maroon flowers are borne mostly in spring. Suitable for full sun and plant in well-drained, compost rich, soil.

Searsia [=Rhus] leptodictya - Mountain Karree (E); Bergkarree (A)

This very hardy, evergreen, drought resistant, short tree (3 to 4m) is ideal for a small garden and can also be used as a small avenue tree. It grows in most soil types in sun or semi-shade. It has a slightly-weeping crown of bright-green trifoliate leaves, and the massed sprays of greeny-white flowers give the tree a delicate lacy look from January to April. Female trees bear bunches of reddish-brown, edible fruits that attract birds to the garden.

Sclerochiton odoratissimus - White Lips (E); Witlippe (A)

A hardy, evergreen, small- to medium-sized shrub that bears masses of wonderfully fragrant, pretty white flowers that are streaked with red or purple lines at this time of year. The flowers are like little hands facing the sun. It is a sight to behold when in flower, especially with all the pollinating insects that visit the flowers. Plant in normal to damp, sunny or semi-shade spots in the garden.

Tecoma [=Tecomaria] capensis (Yellow)- Cape-honeysuckle (E); Kaapse Kanferfoelie (A)

A hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, colourful, rambling shrub that has a long flowering season (early spring, throughout summer and into winter) of beautiful, large spikes of funnel-shaped yellow flowers. They attract Sunbirds, other nectar feeding birds, bees and butterflies to the garden. An exceptional screening plant, can be clipped into a formal hedge or simply used as a beautiful shrub. Plant in sun or semi-shade, preferably in well-composted, well-drained soil.

Falkia repens - White Carpet (E); Oortje’s (A)

It’s not often you find a hardy, evergreen, flat, mat-forming, perennial groundcover that grows in sun or shade and well in both normally irrigated and quite wet areas. Allow it to trail over the edges of containers for a beautiful effect. The flowers attract tiny, pollinating insects to the garden. Wonderful to plant between stepping-stones or as a useful filler or edging plant.


On The Farm

The heat has been unbelievable. Can you imagine what a task we have had to keep the plants watered?

It was so hot and dry that I was even grateful for the hail. Luckily it was just small stones. After hail the plants get a spurt of growth.

I am so grateful for some rain in whatever form it takes.

I think the weirdest thing with the weather is that the plants are totally confused.

The cold snap we had where the temperature went under 80oC in November (unheard of) really confused the plants.

The grassland turned to winter overnight. It was lush and green one day and brown the next. I think it is starting to grow again. If we have a few showers of rain it should recover.

It is unbelievable how nature works. After working hard to prepare for planting the seeds and looking forward to the babies popping up I am sure the seeds knew we were going to have this cold snap and didn’t germinate too well.

I was panicking about having enough plants when I saw this. I needn’t have worried as soon as the cold was over, they started popping up and I am having fun checking each day to see what has germinated.

Even after 28 years I still get so excited when the seedlings pop their heads above the ground. It is a miracle of life renewing itself.

I had one of the most exciting natural events that I was privileged enough to see down at the dam.

Jeff and I saw this terrapin wandering around the edges of the dam. She seemed so intent that she never even noticed us.

A day later Meshack who was working at the dam called me. The Terrapin had started to lay eggs. I was in awe.

She had selected a site above the flood line and started to excavate a hole in the road. I couldn’t believe this little creature could dig in such compact soil.

She was so intent in her egg laying she completely ignored us. She then camouflaged the nest and left.

I have put a wire basket over the nest site to stop anything digging up the nest for the eggs.

My staff and I are keeping a watch in the hopes of seeing the baby terrapins emerge.

Wish us luck.

Another bit of luck with our bird watching is getting this picture of the Red-chested Cuckoo or Piet-my-vrou. We hear this bird every year but he is so shy you very seldom see him.

The Groundscraper Thrush have successfully bred and this is a picture of one of the juveniles that had just left the nest.

It was really strange seeing this Bul-bul collecting spider webs. I am not sure if they use it for nesting material as I have never seen spider webs in their nests.

I am always amazed at how intricately woven the Weaver nests are. I for one would hate to try and copy them. This is the beautiful nest of the Thick-billed Weaver.

The Paradise Flycatchers are sitting. It always surprises me that the nest is almost in the same place each year.

I think the Egyptian Geese in this picture are the ones that were nesting on top of the Hamerkop nest. Jeff just spotted the little family in the garden. It always amazes me at how resilient the babies are, as they often leave the nest from a height and never seem to get damaged. We tried to steer them towards the dam but they left Random Harvest and went next door.

This is a resourceful Weaver. He built his nest over a suet ball in the hopes of keeping it for himself. I wonder if he will find a wife who appreciates his new design.

I am always surprised at how scared people are of bees. In all the years that random Harvest has been open we have only had 3 bee stings. The bees have been swarming and no-one even notices. Watching this phenomenon is really interesting.

The Wild Peach (Kiggelaria africana) are playing host to the caterpillars on the Garden Acraea butterflies.

Please don’t worry if you think the tree is being defoliated. They are evolved to use the fertiliser from the droppings of the worms and this helps them to bounce back with bright new leaves in a few weeks.


I heard a commotion in the nursery. My staff saw this cute little Red-lipped Herald snake. From the commotion you would have thought it was a Mamba. They know very well they are not allowed to harm a snake so they called Jonathan to help.

I am always happy to see snakes as they are a sign of a healthy environment.


The Ficus sur (Broom cluster Fig) is full of figs and the birds are feasting on them. If you pick them at the right time, before the insects find them, they are tasty.

This interesting pink Boophane disticha (Fan-leaved Boophane) flowered in the succulent garden with two heads of flowers. It is the first time I have seen a double-flowered one.

At long last I have managed to get the garden at the gate looking good. I think the grass (Eragrostis curvula) gives the bed a soft and textured looked.

The Crinum macowanii (River Lily) have been in full flower. The spectacular flowers are a joy to have in the garden

The Gymnosporia harveyana (Black Forest Spike-Thorn) normally have their bright red berries at this time of the year but popped early this year. I love this plant as it grows in full shade and semi-shade and is very drought resistant.

The Turraea floribunda (Honeysuckle tree) has just flowered and, Oh my Word, the flowers smell divine. This is one of the joys of spring in the nursery.

We are busy expanding the nursery and Jonathan came up with the idea of using rubble, of which we have plenty, to construct the retaining walls. It works perfectly and we are recycling at the same time. A win, win situation.

I would like to welcome our littlest customer who was very interested in what we were doing.

I am also so grateful to our loyal customers for their continued support – a great big thank you! It is only through you that we can indulge in our indigenous plant passion and live this wonderful life.

With the December holidays coming up I hope you find time to visit us.

We would all like to wish you a Happy Christmas and all the best for the new Year.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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