Random Harvest Newsletter - December 2015

Posted On: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

 

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

The rain was absolutely fantastic after that extremely hot and dry spell.  It gave me a real lift.

An amazing thing happened in the grassland during the heatwave.  Jeff and I were driving to the dam and saw that there was a green sheen on the grassland that had been absolutely desiccated by the heatwave. 

I said to Jeff that I thought the veld knew something we didn’t and that maybe it was going to rain.  Lo and behold! 8 days later we had that fabulous rain.  Isn’t nature wonderful?

In The Nursery

 

 

Christmas is just around the corner.  Time flies and Christmas seems to come around quicker each year.  This year we have dedicated our tree to butterflies.  

 

 

I have made decorations out of pictures of the particular butterfly that uses the tree as a host and hung them on the host tree.

We couldn’t forget the birds so have turned our bird feeding station into a Christmas tree for the birds.  

Clopas has made beautiful bird feeders in the shape of traditional Christmas symbols.  The birds take no notice of all the glittery decorations and are feasting on the new source of food.

Bird Walks

 

Andre is once again going to do his really fascinating bird walks for us.  Our bird list is now over 150 species that are confirmed by Andre.

The dates are:  Saturday 12 December and Wednesday 23rd December.  Time 6h30 for 7h00. 

The cost is R100.00 per person which includes a welcome tea and coffee with homemade rusks and after the walk a Sunrise breakfast.

Booking is essential:  Call David on 082-553-0598

Christmas Gift to You

 

Our Christmas Gift to you to show our appreciation of your continued support.

We have made up pretty presents for the children to encourage their interest in nature. 

It is a succulent Haworthia sp. which can grow indoors and a beaded butterfly in keeping with our theme of a butterfly Christmas.

Not forgetting the adults there is a packet of seeds and a bookmark on the African Monarch butterfly and its host plant.

Public Holidays

We are open on the 16th  and on the 26th December.

We are closed on the 25th December and 1st January, 2016

 

Christmas Gifts for your Loved Ones

 
 

Think of giving a long term gift of a gift voucher from Random Harvest and the recipient will have years of joy from the indigenous plants around them.

We also have some interesting natural and handmade products in our quirky little shop.  We try to stock only products with a conscience both for uplifting people and taking the environment into consideration.

My Mom gave me these beautiful sculptures by Africa Yarona Group for my birthday.  I just love them and have put them in a container surrounded by Ceropegia wooddii which will hang gracefully over the side of the pot. 

They are on my veranda where I spend most of my free time so I can enjoy the beauty of both the sculptures and the stone. 

Think of one of these as a gift which will give you the added bonus of knowing you are supporting these incredibly talented people.

There is also a lovely range of plant containers for people with smaller spaces to garden or how about one of the delightful models of wild creatures and birds - both of which make wonderful gift.

Books

We have received new stock of books all aimed at helping to plant indigenous plants and about the creatures that will use them as well as some interesting field guides.  A book is a gift for life.

Kids

A ‘Nature Explorers Kit’ will give you children hours of fun observing nature both at home and on your travels.  This is just one of the interesting, inexpensive gifts we have for children.

Plants To Attract Butterflies That Are Looking Good

The plants I have chosen this month are plants that any self-respecting butterfly cannot resist. 

Make sure there are nectar rich plants blooming in your garden throughout the year to ensure a ready supply of food for them.

Aloe cooperi - Cooper’s Aloe (E); isiputumane (Z)

Very hardy, stemless Aloe with long, narrow, yellow-green leaves arranged in a fan shape and distinctively keeled with white spots beneath.

It has spikes of apricot or yellow coloured, tubular flowers from Dec. to March.  The flowers attract nectar feeding birds such as Sunbirds and White Eyes as well as a whole host of butterflies. 

It grows in a variety of soil types and unusually for an Aloe, grows in marshy places.  It is also very frost tolerant and grows in cold areas.  A lovely garden plant and a beautiful addition to a grassland or marsh area.

Size 40 to 50cm
Distribution: Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal

Natural Habitat: Open moist grassland and dry rocky areas

Arctotheca calendula - Cape Dandelion (E); Kaapse Gousblom (A)

A fairly hardy, evergreen groundcover with attractive bright green, deeply lobed leaves that have white undersides. 

It bears yellow daisy-like flowers all year round that are the playground of butterflies. 

It has a spreading, mat forming growth form and will fill those hot, sunny, well-drained areas with bright colours. Size Up to 10cm
Distribution: KwaZulu Natal, E. Cape, W. Cape

Natural Habitat: Widespread including coastal areas or on disturbed soil

 

Barleria greenii - Wild Bush Petunia (E)

This very hardy, deciduous, spiny, small shrub has masses of gorgeous, huge pink, nectar rich Petunia-like flowers in summer.

They are sweet smelling at night which suggests that they are moth pollinated and have copious nectar that attract Carpenter Bees and butterflies. 

A beautiful garden plant that is stunning when planted in groups.  Prune back in winter to ensure masses of flowers in summer.

Size 30 to 80cm
Distribution: KwaZulu Natal

Natural Habitat: Open rocky areas in black clay and along streams and drainage lines


Chaetacanthus setiger - Fairy stars (E)

Hardy, evergreen, flat growing, groundcover with attractive, glossy, round leaves.  Small starry white flowers are borne along the trailing stems from Aug. to Jan.  Plant in sun or shade. 

Butterflies find it irresistible making it an attractive addition to a butterfly garden.  It is the host plant of the Yellow Pansy and Gaika Blue butterflies.  

Plant trailing over the edge of containers, in hanging baskets or planted in retaining walls where its bright little leaves look good all year round, and although waterwise, look much better if watered regularly. 

Size 15 to 25 cm Distribution: Limpopo, N. West, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal,  Free State, E. Cape, W. Cape

Natural Habitat: In grassland, forest and Renosterveld

Dyschoriste sp. nova - Pink Dyschoriste (E)

This hardy, evergreen, shrubby perennial has beautiful, almost maroon-green leaves.  Pale pink flowers that attract butterflies are borne almost all year through except during mid-winter. 

The leaves on the tips of the branches turn purple in winter.  Flowers best in full sun but also grows in semi-shade.  Prune back lightly after flowering. 

Makes a beautiful small formal hedge to grow along the edges of beds.  Size 30 to 60cm


 

Peltophorum africanum - African Wattle (E); Huilboom (A); musese (V); mosêtlha (Tsw); umsehle (Z)

Hardy, deciduous, drought resistant, small to medium-sized tree. The lovely fine, feathery leaves resemble that of Acacia species but the tree is thornless. 

The leaf and flower buds are brown and hairy adding another dimension to this beautiful tree. 

It blooms profusely with large, golden spikes of beautiful, crinkly flowers that butterflies cannot resist from Oct. to May and which persist on the tree for weeks. 

A beautiful spectacle to behold.  The tree is also the host plant of many butterfly species.  Its rounded shape makes a good shade tree in the smaller garden. 

An excellent garden subject for semi-shade or sunny areas.  It has beautiful architecture when leafless.

Size 4 to 8m S.A. No. 215
Distribution: Limpopo, N. West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal

Natural Habitat: Wooded grassland, margins of vleis.  Often associated with termite mounds.

Salvia chamelaeagnea - Blommetjiesalie (A)

Very hardy, evergreen, small to medium sized shrub with light green leaves that contrast well with the darker green leaves of other shrubs. 

Spikes of blue and white flowers are borne throughout the summer and attract nectar-feeding birds and butterflies to the garden. 

They also make an attractive cut flower. It is an attractive, easy plant to grow in well-drained soil with lots of compost. 

Plant in full sun or semi-shade areas. Size .5 to 1m
Distribution : N. Cape, W. Cape

Natural Habitat: Along seepage lines, riverbeds and in sandy soil among rocks in Fynbos

On The Farm

   

With the incredible dry and hot spell we had I decided to mulch all the plants both on the farm and in the nursery.  I also gave them a dressing of rock dust which helps with drought resistance.

 

The difference this made was nothing short of phenomenal.  I have cut the watering by a good 20% which, when you are living off boreholes, is substantial.   Not only the water, but the saving in labour is also significant.

Keep an eye on our website www.rhn.co.za we will be doing an article on how to shape your garden to maximise the rain we do have and not let it just run off uselessly.

 

As usual, when there are water problems they become huge problems. 

We had a lot of fun and frustration trying to find a pipe that was giving us problems.  

I am sure if there is ever an archaeological dig on Random Harvest the consensus would be that the mad pipe man lived here. 

You can barely put a fork into the garden without hitting a pipe. 

The joys of living on a farm for 47 years without plans of where pipes and cables run.

 

It has been so hot that the fruit has been dropping off the trees. 

Hopefully we will be able to make enough jam to see us through to the next season.

 

I noticed the Acacias that were blooming dropped their flowers in the heat to conserve water, but fortunately after the rain they have flushed with flowers again and are looking magnificent at the moment. 

The picture is of Acacia polyacantha (White stemmed thorn)

 

I am also excited to welcome Shellyne to the team.  She is proving to be a huge help with the admin which I was doing as well. 

Hopefully I can now spend more time in the nursery and not so much in the office.

 

There has been lots of action from the wildlife on the farm, in particular the Genet who has been feasting on my mother’s chickens. 

We had to make them a safe place to sleep at night. 

I must say they have taken to sleeping indoors very well. 

The genet is so wasteful if he took a chicken and ate the whole thing one wouldn’t mind so much about giving him a free meal but he eats just the head and a little of the breast. 

Now he is going to have to go hunting instead of an easy meal of chicken.

Thankfully the grassland is looking a lot better since the rain.   The Vernonia sp. are in full flower.  They are a favourite with the butterflies who absolutely crowd on the flowers competing for the nectar. 

 

This is a picture of Flakson patrolling to keep the crows away from the baby Plovers. 

He is also a dab hand at scaring the Indian Mynhas off.

I just have to do something to protect the baby Plovers (Lapwings) from the marauding crows.

 

Jeffrey got this beautiful picture of a Terrapin walking around the grassland. 

He is back in the dam and getting really tame. 

He doesn’t jump off his rock instantly when someone approaches.

 

The Egyptian Geese have babies which are growing fast. 

I am really happy to see the babies thriving as most years something down at the dam hunts them and very few survive.

Talking of babies.  There are also lots of Scrub Hare babies and Jeffrey took this delightful picture of a baby peeping out at him.

 

We seem to have more Scrub Hares on the farm than usual. 

This may be because most of my neighbours have overgrazed their properties until they look like dry, desert landscapes, and these creatures can therefore no longer find enough food to survive there.

There are also lots of Scrub Hare babies and Jeffrey took this delightful picture of a baby peeping out at him.

 

The Thick Knees also have babies. 

I am loving hearing their wonderful calls at night. 

I often wake up in the middle of the night and just sit listening to them.

Not only am I serenaded by the Thick Knees but by the frogs and toads. 

How anyone can think this is a racket I don’t know. 

I love their calls and they serenade me every night as I drift off to sleep to these wonderful sounds.

 

All the ponds are full of Guttural Toad and Common River Frogs and their tadpoles.  What a privileged life I live?

 While on the subject of calls.

The Cuckoos are back to parasitise the nests of some of the birds on the farm. 

 

One of the most beautiful calls is the Black Cuckoo who is always soooooo sad. 

Jeffrey managed to get a picture of this cryptic bird.

The other Cuckoos that are calling are the Red Chested Cuckoo (Piet my vrou) and the Diederik Cuckoo.

 

I am also happy to hear the Burchells Coucal calling as I always think of him as the rain bird. 

So I am living in hopes of some more rain soon.

 

The Red-Winged Starling is visiting the feeding station regularly and to hear him announce his arrival with his gentle calls is a truly lovely moment.

A weird visitor to our bird feeding station with this pretty blue Budgie. 

He spent a few days here and left.  A strange sight indeed.


 

A beautiful bulb blooming at the moment is Boophone distica (Gifbol) from our local grasslands. 

Its seed head is the tumbleweed one sees rolling along. 

This is becoming rarer as the bulbs are over harvested by Muthi collectors and people plough their lands destroying their habitat.

The Toad Trees (Tabernaemontana elegans) have been really beautiful this year and borne masses of white, scented flowers.  

 

It is a treat that a typical Bushveld tree does so well here on the Highveld and is a perfect tree for a smaller garden. 

Their seeds are just one of the lovely features of this great tree.

My nephew, Robert from Waterbrothers, built this lovely natural pool for one of my customers and Jeff helped her with her garden. 

She invited Jeff to see the garden and he was blown away. 

The garden is only 2 years old and everything is looking amazing. 

 

For anyone who thinks indigenous trees are slow growing, they should take a look at this garden. 

Nice to have a happy customer.

Talk about happiness.

It was my birthday and my staff spoiled me and decorated my whole house with balloons and good wishes as well as giving me a great gift of stationery – one of my weaknesses. 

 

I would like to thank my staff and the many people who sent me birthday wishes.

I felt very special and much loved.  Thank you.

The nursery is looking particularly good at the moment. 

Fritos and Lionel have been working really hard. 

 

Do make some time over the holidays to visit us.

If you are going away for the holidays please drive carefully.

Have a wonderful Christmas and all the very best for the New Year.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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

Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Sundays

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

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