Random Harvest Newsletter - August 2012

Posted On: Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Time flies so fast - one day we are bemoaning the cold and the next spring is in the air.  I am really excited to see the plants responding to the day length by starting to swell their buds.  By the time the next newsletter is due the farm and nursery will be looking completely different - amazing.

Women's day

Visit us on the 9th August "Women's Day" and collect your free gift of a pretty Lachenalia in a colourful pot to brighten up your day.

Compost Special

We are continuing the compost special of our own Random Harvest Compost.

With every 3 x 30dm bags @ R21.50 each of Random Harvest compost purchased get

1 bag of mulch free.

Displays

The displays are at last ready and looking great. 

Biodiversity and trees in tiny spaces. 

I hope this display inspires people with tiny gardens to plant an indigenous tree and plant up the little space you do have so that birds and insects, at the very least, can make use of the area.

Trees for smaller spaces

We have also set up a display of small to medium sized trees for the smaller garden to give you some idea of what you can use.

Trees for containers.

We have planted up some trees that are suitable for containers.  In harsh conditions such as balconies these are really useful. 

Most balconies are really hot and windy and a few nice trees in containers will make the area much more pleasant to use.

Water conservation display

The roof we planted up with succulents in the water conservation display is looking absolutely amazing.

It worked out much better than I could ever have hoped for and is buzzing with insect life

The wonderful part trees play in an ecosystem.

With "tree season" now firmly upon us, and arbour week just a month away, it seems fitting to honour our wonderful trees. I read with astonishment that Johannesburg has over 10 million trees! (www.jhbcityparks.com).

It is a sad fact that so most of these are exotic, and of limited use to wildlife. To call Johannesburg a forest is, in my opinion not correct as a forest implies an ecosystem full of life - it could rather be called a plantation. 

In my endeavour to turn Johannesburg into one big nature reserve for micro-wildlife (genet size down), I think it is fitting to suggest some ways in which we can best use trees to attract these creatures to our gardens - either to stay or to visit for as long as possible.

In nature you will rarely see a tree growing in isolation. Trees, particularly when growing together support a complex ecosystem all of their own.

Suddenly, a vertical dimension is introduced, so that wildlife may move up and down the garden, and not just through it. To make the most of this living "escalator", I encourage you to think about the plants you can place under the tree, to create different strata of vegetation that the wildlife can use.

Shy birds and other creatures will find it comforting to be able to reach ground level without being noticed too much. They will be able to descend gradually, continuously checking to see that it is safe to reach the ground, or nearby water if that is their destination.  

Pruning

Many people are asking about pruning their shrubs now that winter is almost over. My suggestion is to wait until mid to late August, when all chance of frost is over. We may yet have a cold snap that destroys growing or vulnerable plant parts.

Grasses, however, will respond well to being pruned now. Cut them right back and the new growth will be able to come through unfettered by the old, dead grass leaves and flowering stems. Don't forget to use the dead cut grasses in your compost heap, or bundle them into a beastie box. There are many insects and other invertebrates that will find them to be welcome shelter while it is still nippy.

Looking good

There are some Veltheimia bracteata with their lovely pink or yellow flower spikes in bloom.

Now is the time for Lachenalia (Cape Hyacinth) to bloom, and what a sight they are. 

The Aloes are also looking amazing and I have a few specimens of the local Aloe peglerae in full flower in stock.  This is the first time I have seen them this size and flowering - gorgeous!

On the farm

My mom and I had been arguing about cutting the grass just below the nursery.  My mom said cut and I said no cut.   Eventually I decided to give in so Jeffrey and I went to have a look and to go to the dam where, to our great excitement, we saw a Marsh Owl take off from the edge.

While driving up to the office I wanted to show him the area to cut.  To our utter amazement a Grass Owl shot out of the grass with a rat in his claws.  He looked back at us where we could distinctly see the white plates around his eyes.  It also gave us a unique opportunity to see the size difference between these two owls.

Needless to say the grass never got cut.

A Hadeda's battle with a Rhino beetle.  This Hadeda thought he had a found a tasty morsel for breakfast!  Mistake.  He tried his best to swallow this beetle with no luck - it was just too much for him.

Jeffrey and I heard a terrible noise in my mom's garden.  It sounded as if the dog had caught one of her chickens and was intent on killing it.  Jeffrey ran like a wild thing to try and save her chicken. 

It was no chicken but just the Go-away birds having a fight over the food table.  It really sounded blood curdling.

Talking about chickens my mom's chickens have got used to the fact that she feeds them from the golf car so every time I drive down the road I am bombed by begging chickens.

We have seen some interesting things at the dam in July.  The African Spoonbills visited us again much to the disgust of the Egyptian Geese. 

I think the geese have eggs on the island in the dam as they are so protective they kept on swimming around chasing the Spoonbills.

It is always exciting when the Spoonbills visit.

I have always thought  than I have seen Quelea flying in flocks near the dam.  Jeffrey was lucky enough to get a picture of them in the reeds at the dam.  So happiness is an addition to the Random Harvest Bird list.

You can never really know about nature.  I just love this farm and spend my life looking after it and observing nature and still miss a lot.  For the first time I noticed these totally entwined Celtis Africana. 

Aren't they beautiful?  This is a perfect answer to the question I am always asked "How far apart should I plant my trees?"  

 The answer is what effect you want to create and how dark do you want the shade to be.  Just goes to show that observing nature is full of surprises.

The Aloe vanbalenii in the garden are looking absolutely amazing this year.  I have never seen them with so many flowers.  As you can imagine the birds are going crazy for the nectar. 

Even the Black Headed Oriole who is normally quite secretive was out there enjoying the copious nectar offered by the flowers.

I think at long last I have come into the 21st century and started face booking about Random Harvest and all the amazing things I see here.  Click on the icon if you want to see what we have been up to on Facebook.

Liesure options are having a vote for the best of Joburg.  I would appreciate it if you would care to vote for us. 

Go to www.bestofjoburg.co.za and vote for best kept secret Click on 'vote' then living in Joburg and go to' Jozi'z best kept secret'.  You could also vote under 'shopping' go to 'Garden Nursery'.

Enjoy the last of the cold days.

 

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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

Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Saturday, Closed Sundays

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

DIRECTIONS

Directions from the N1

  • From the N1 take the Beyers Naude off ramp and travel north along Beyers Naude Drive.
  • From the Christian De Wet Road crossing (Northgate is towards your right) continue along Beyers Naude Drive for 8.2km.
  • If you are traveling along Christiaan De Wet Road, turn left or from Northumberland Ave. turn right into Beyers Naude Drive.
  • Using Garden World Nursery, which is on your right, as a landmark measure 1.8km to our turn-off.
  • Opposite Oakfield farm (which is well sign-posted) at Valdor Centre turn right into College Road.
  • Continue for 2.2.km keeping right and following the small directional signs to Random Harvest Nursery.
  • You will find us on the left.

Directions from the N14

  • From the N14 (Krugersdorp - Pretoria Highway) take the Randburg/Zwartkop offramp (NB Do not take the Randburg/Lanseria offramp if you are coming from Pretoria).
  • Turn left towards Johannesburg along the extension of Beyers Naude Drive.
  • Pass the turn-off to Diepsloot - Nooitgedacht
  • Take the next tar road to your left at Valdor Centre into College Road 
  • Follow the directional signs (See above).
     

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