Random Harvest Newsletter - April 2017

Posted On: Saturday, April 1, 2017

 

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast

Hasn’t the weather been amazing?  The addition of a good shower of rain makes me happy to be alive.  If one thinks of earth as a whole and how beautiful it is from outer space it is easy to realise what a miracle life truly is.   

In the Nursery

Namaqualand Daisy Seed

We have packets of seed of the beautiful Namaqualand Daisies and packets of mixed seed which include the daisies and a variety of other lovely annuals.

Namaqualand daisies are surely one of the treasures of South African flora and easy to grow in a sunny spot of the garden.

They offer you a riot of colour at the end of winter when we are most in need of a ray of sunshine

The cost is R68.50 for enough seed to cover 4 or 5 square meters.

Should you be unable to come out to the nursery we can post them to you.

Easter Eco Treasure Hunt 

Saturday 1 April to Sunday 30th April, Time: 08h00 – 16h30 daily 
Cost: Free

Every year around this time we have great excitement at the nursery. My staff put together an "eco treasure hunt" and this year promises to be as much fun as usual. From 1 to 30 April you can ask at reception for the sheet of clues and take the children find the interesting eco facts about the plants at Random Harvest. Once they've found all the answers to the clues, they can collect their prize.

Bird Walk

Saturday 15th April, Time: 07h00 for 07h30
Cost: R140 per person, including breakfast

Booking is essential as we can only take the first 20 people who book.

Andre Marx has, once again, very kindly agreed to do a bird walk at Random Harvest Nursery.

We will welcome you with coffee and homemade biscuits. 

After the walk join Andre for a chat and delicious breakfast buffet of egg, bacon, sausages, cut fresh tomato bread and jam, muesli, fresh fruit with hot or cold milk and tea or coffee.

Time 7h00 for 7h30 Cost per person R140.00

Mothers’ Day - Sunday 14th May

Over the years Random Harvest tea garden has become increasingly popular as a Mothers’ Day Outing venue. To cater for a greater variety of tastes, this year we have two delicious offerings:

1. A breakfast buffet served until 11h00 will include egg, bacon, sausages, cut fresh tomato bread and jam, muesli, fresh fruit with hot or cold milk and tea or coffee. Breakfast will be served on a first come first served basis.

After 11h00 we will revert to our normal menu

2. We are also offering a High Tea in the garden from 14h00 to 16h00 but. All Moms visiting on the day will receive a special Mothers’ Day treat. For more details have a look at our Mothers’ Day hyperlink on the website.

PLEASE NOTE HIGH TEA IS BY BOOKING ONLY - To book please contact our reception on [email protected] or 082 553 2598.

All Moms visiting on the day will receive a special Mothers’ Day treat. For more details have a look at our Mothers’ Day hyperlink on the website.

Food Garden Display

Our tiny space food garden has amazed even me at how many different kinds of herbs, vegetables and fruit one can grow in a very small area. It fits in well with Random Harvest’s belief in a sustainable way of life.

This basic inspiration garden serves as a platform for our customers to get ideas from to fill their own tiny spaces with seasonal food plants of their choice.

Urban Arid Garden

Succulents are still one of the ‘tidiest’ groups of plants with which to garden. It lends itself extremely well to urban gardening.

Plants which mess can be very challenging to a busy lifestyle and a small garden space. Our arid urban garden will be ready to view from the end of April 2017. It will be crammed with ideas on how to garden with very little water and still have a striking outdoor space that feeds the soul.

 

Public holidays - we are open from 8h00 to 17h00
Random Harvest will be open on the following public holidays.

Easter weekend
Closed on Good Friday 14th April
Open on the 15th, 16th and 17th April

We are open on Freedom Day the 27th April and Workers Day 1st May.

Monthly Coffee Morning - 5th April: Preparing your garden for winter
I so enjoyed chatting to my customers at our last coffee morning and am really looking forward to our next one on Wednesday the 5th of April.

Join us at 10h30 for a discussion on preparing the garden for winter. This session promises to be packed with useful information, so bring your questions, pens, notebooks and friends, and we will provide the coffee.

Cottages – win a mid-week stay

Enter our irresistible competition on Facebook (hyperlink) and stand a chance to spend some time away from the busy-ness of life. Check out of the rush and all you need to do is check in with us. We’ll take care of the rest.

The hardest part of your stay will be getting out of our comfy bed in the morning. All themid-week stay competition detailsare on our website.

Plants looking good

Nymphaea nouchali (Blue Waterlily)
What could possibly be more beautiful than a pond filled with gorgeous waterlilies?

They attract many different types of insects.

 

Their interesting pollination strategy is that when the flowers open and some of the stamens are folded over in the middle this is the male phase of the flower and the insects can visit it with impunity. The following day when the flower opens the stamens are all folded back to reveal a pool of liquid in the centre.

Now! If an insect visits the flower and tries to collect pollen the stamens are slippery and they slide down into the liquid, the flower closes over them and the insect drowns. The flower is not carnivorous. The pollen washes off the insect and the insect drowns. Quite macabre.

The grasses are looking wonderful at the moment. I love these plants as they impart a feeling of peace and tranquillity when they waft in the gentlest of breezes. In these turbulent times we can do with all the tranquillity we can get.

 

Turraea floribunda - Honeysuckle Tree
This tree is truly spectacular in spring when it drops its leaves and bursts into flower. The flowers are so numerous you can hardly see the stems.
They also have a delicious scent. The flowers are visited by insects and the tiny birds like the Cape White Eyes who in turn feast on the insects that visit. It is a good butterfly host plant as well.

The fruit opens into woody star-shaped pod with red seeds in the middle and these seeds attract fruit eating birds.

Hypoestes aristata - Ribbon Bush
Autumn is when these plants look spectacular. They will bloom right up to the end of May. Remember in spring to cut them back quite severley in spring in order to have mass flowering the following year.

Butterflies and other insects are attracted to the nectar which the flowers generously provide.

Ortosiphon labiatus - Shellflower (E)
This small woody shrub grows in sun or semi shade and is a useful size for smaller spaces. It gets covered in flowers from midsummer to early winter when it loses its leaves.

Prune it back in early spring to encourage flowering.

On the Farm

We have seen so many ‘firsts’ of wildlife in the nursery in particular fascinating spiders.

Spiders have been noticeably absent from the nursery in the last few years. For this reason I was really excited to see these pictures Jeffrey took.

Astri Leroy kindly did the identification and still there was still one spider she was not sure of.

This tiny brown chap is unidentified. Unfortunately Astri couldn’t see enough details to be able to help. If you have any idea of what it could be then please let us know. We’d be most grateful.

This bright green little spider, Oxytate sp., is one of a large family of crab spiders.

This is the first Wolf Spider I have seen with his lovely black dots on his body.

It is always a pleasure and privilege to see a rain spider (Palystes superciliosus). These huge spiders give you an opportunity for up close viewing.

The abundance just continues with the mushrooms that have been dazzling this summer. Mike, with much time and effort, managed to identify a few of them for me. Much to his disgust I lost his note and he had to start the whole process over again. Needless to say I owe him big time.


Amanita Phalloides





We featured the tiny white mushroom in the January newsletter. Now we have a name for you Termitomyces microcarpus (Termite mushroom).

It is said to be edible but is so tiny you would need hundreds to make a mouthful.

Although mushrooms can look confusingly the same – they are quite easy to identify. Here are a few points to observe:

Form * Texture * Colour * Odour * Cap shape * Spore print * Spore colour * Gill taxonomy

The Guinea Fowl babies are growing up and look so funny with both their baby and adult plumage. They look quite prehistoric.

I love them as they are true grassland birds. By now you must have picked up just how much I love our grassland. The Guinea Fowl certainly add an element of joy each time I see them.

Talking of grassland birds we found this Francolin nest when we were mowing. Thank Goodness I always send people to walk in front of the tractor to make sure there is no wildlife in the way for the blades to chomp up.

Whilst on the topic of mowing I bought a new baler and rake. It was so exciting watching the experts teach Ben, our tractor driver, how to operate it. The baler is an important part of our compost production as the veld grass is an essential component.

How clever was Jeffrey to get this beautiful picture of a Tawny Flanked Prinia? There were about 6 of them in the papyrus, singing their heads off.

Nature is amazing and one learns more each day. I only noticed the striped lower mandible of the Grey Hornbill when I saw the picture.

It is moments and discoveries like this that make my life so interesting all the time my life is so interesting all the time.

This is the first picture we have managed to get of a Yellow Canary and lucky Jeff is so observant he found the nest as well.

The Moorhen on the dam have 2 new babies. They are so used to us that they swim out in the open when we are there.

The Purple Heron is also stalking around the edges of the dam scheming how he can make a meal of the babies. Luckily the moorhens are canny and keep their babies in the deeper water.

There are so many species of moths flying around from the tiniest to the huge Emperor Moths. This is a picture of the brightly coloured, distinctive Oleander Hawk Moth (Daphnis nerii).

The larval host plants include Carissa macrocarpa (Big Num-num or Amatungulu) and Rauvolfia caffra (Quinine Tree).

I have a vast number of pictures of interesting caterpillars but am not having much luck identifying them. If I get it right I will share the pictures with you.

There are also lots of frogs and toads around at the moment, and I am sure they are feasting on the little moths and abundance of other small insects.

We see parades of frogs in among the packets in the nursery.

The lives of insects are always interesting and I wonder what would happen to us without insects to pollinate our plants.

This Carpenter Bee is engrossed in buzz pollination. The bee grabs the tightly closed stamens in his front legs and buzzes causing the pollen to fly off the flower and on to his body.

When he leaves the flower the stamens flop open indicating to any other passing Carpenter Bee that the pollen has been taken.

As the bee goes from flower to flower he transfers pollen off of his body onto a different flower.

I loved this picture of the ladybird. It is at times like this that I am so pleased that we went down the route of running this nursery on sound environmental principles.

Gladiolus crassifolius popped its head up in our grassland to my delight.

It is astounding that I have been managing the grassland for about 15 years and every year the variety of species we see popping up, without having planted them, keeps on growing.

It just goes to show how forgiving nature really is. The effort we put in to this farm to make sure that the natural world has a place around us really pays dividends in the peace it imparts to our lives.

I have shared it before, but you may want to look at Carol Knoll’s interesting article on

restoring our grassland

.

I had to share this picture of the littlest gardener at Random Harvest she was really sweet.

How beautiful is the flower of this Stapelia leendertzii with its pool of water. Pity it does not get its common name Carrion Plant for nothing and has a bit of a nasty smell. This smell is perfect to attract its pollinators which are flies.

I would like to ask that if you bring the children to visit the cows that you don’t take them into the paddocks. We have one cheeky cow who killed my mom’s cockerel with one kick. I would hate her to harm someone.

The birds are getting really cheeky. One of our customers took this charming picture of a Cape Robin Chat coming for his share of their tea.

Hope to see you soon at Random Harvest and enjoy these crisp mornings and balmy days.

 

‘Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains. Gifts from God – let us do our best in the garden.’ Robert Forsyth

Sincerely

Linda

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