Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2017

Posted On: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I cannot tell you how grateful I am that that terrible tornado missed us. We just got the edge of it – nice rain and a bit of tiny hail. Pictures cannot convey the ferocity of the storm and the damage it did. We are truly blessed.

Bird Walk

We are excited that Andre Marx will be taking another bird walk in November. I photographed this African Pipit in the grassland. Luckily I could send the picture to Andre for identification.

Going on a walk with Andre you will definitely not be bamboozled with identifying those pesky LBJ’s that all look almost the same.

Date: 18th November, 2017, Time:7h00
Cost: including Buffet breakfast and welcome tea and biscuits. R145.00

Coffee Morning

This month the first Wednesday falls on the 1st of November and Heather and I will talk about creating beautiful containers.

Heather is so artistic and full of good ideas. Hope to see you here.
Time: 10h30 and there is no cost.

 

Inspirational Cameo Gardens

At last we have finished this display of how you can create interesting features in your garden.

The gardens are small enough to go onto a balcony, in the tiniest of gardens or as interesting features in a bigger garden.

Propagating Indigenous Plants By Cuttings

Mike and Jonathan will be generously sharing their knowledge and experience of multiplying your plants vegetatively.
They have a wealth of knowledge between them and this morning promises to be both interesting and educational.

Starting time: 10h30
Date: 4th November, 2017
Cost: R120.00 per person including tea and cake.Booking essential: Contact either [email protected] or 082 553 0598.

Plants That Are Looking Good

I thought I would showcase a few plants for shady areas of the garden.

Thunbergia natalensis - Dwarf Thunbergia (E); Dwergthunbergia (A)

We all seem to have a lot of shade and semi-shade areas in our gardens. With its beautiful sky-blue, trumpet-shaped flowers and pretty heart-shaped leaves the Dwarf Thunbergia is particularly pretty in summer but do remember it is deciduous. At about 50cm tall it is also a useful size.

Asparagus plumosus - Asparagus Fern (E)

The delicate look of this twining climber belies just how tough and drought resistant it actually is. Red berries, that attract birds, follow the starry, white flowers that are borne from Feb. to May. Good filler plant for shady areas but over time it will scramble and cover nearby plants so should be controlled by pruning and removing runners once or twice a year.

Drimiopsis maculata - Spotted Leaved Drimiopsis (E)

This lovely short bulbous plant thrives in very dark areas and is also tough and drought resistant. It also grows in amongst tree roots. Its best feature is the leaves that have dark purple spots on them. The flowers are pretty and delicate but are overshadowed by the beautiful foliage. The bulbs multiply freely and create lovely big clumps. It is deciduous in winter. It is a beautiful spring and summer-time container plant

Stipa dregeana - Stipa Grass (E)

If you are looking for a grass to lighten up shady areas with fine bright green leaves and delicate seed heads that sway with the gentlest of breezes – look no further than Stipa. It looks beautiful planted near ponds and will give a forest garden a natural look. An added bonus is that it attracts seed eating birds and is a butterfly host plant.

Ortosiphon labiatus - Shellflower (E); Pienk Salie (A)

With its spikes of pale and dark pink flowers and softly textured leaves this is a beautiful addition to a semi-shade area of the garden. It makes a pretty hedge or small screen and flowers best if pruned lightly after flowering. The next lot of flowers are borne on the new growth.

Talbotia elegans - False Dracaena (E)

This evergreen, small plant with leathery leaves forms mats in moist shady areas. It is beautiful planted in amongst rocks or at the edge of a pond in the shade. A beautiful and unusual addition to a shade garden.

Ornithogalum ssp. ‘Tiny Peddie’

With its tuft of glossy, grass-like leaves and tiny, pure white, starry flowers it is a delicate addition to a sunny, semi-shade or light shade area of your garden. It blooms the whole summer long. As it is a delicate plant it should be planted in groups for the best effect.

Becium obovatum - Cat’s Whiskers (E); Katsnor (A)

If you look carefully at the picture of the bee, you can clearly see the orange pollen sacs where he has been collecting the bounty offered by this plant. Although it is deciduous it is well worth planting for its pretty flowers in summer and the fact that it is an important butterfly host plant and provides food for a whole lot of other insects.

Albuca shawii - Small Yellow Albuca (E); Lanternblom (A)

The beautiful delicate, scented, yellow bells nodding in the slightest breeze make this one of my favourite bulbs. It is beautiful planted amongst smaller grasses in a grassland garden. It also makes a great addition to a meadow garden.

Arctotis hybrids

These groundcovers come in a whole rainbow of different colours. They are tough and easy to grow but do need well-drained soil and a sunny position. Prune lightly and regularly to keep them looking their best and keep them flowering. An added feature is their attractive silvery foliage.

Plantsave Products

As soon as the rains start the plants start multiplying and growing vigorously… and so do some pests.

Remember healthy gardens don’t get ravaged by pests. You could still find a few pests, but they won’t take over and decimate your plants. Just remember that worms and caterpillars are in general not pests, except for those that are well known for the damage they do, such as amaryllis (lily borer), lawn caterpillars and some beetle larvae.

Before waging chemical warfare on these unwanted garden visitors, please remember that many of these creatures are something else’s food. But if you do have problems a safe and organic solution is to use the Panaf products which we use in the nursery and have smaller volumes packaged for the gardener

PLANTSAVE 1. A general pesticide that is environmentally friendly and will not indiscriminately kill all and sundry that visit the plants. It is safe and easy to use. I have even had good results using it against the dreaded Amaryllis worm.

PLANTSAVE 2 is a great fertiliser and helps strengthen your plants. It is immediately absorbed into the plant which prevents the damage done to the soil and our water quality by water soluble, chemical fertilisers.

PLANTSAVE 3 will support your plants defence against heat and drought.

PLANTSAVE 6 will control and kill fungi that attack our plants in the humid warm weather. Especially mildew and mould.

Gardening Courses By Lindsay Gray

Domestic Gardeners Training
Starting time: 8h30
Date: Friday 17 November
The course includes notes, breakfast and lunch and attendance certificate.

Easy steps to planning your garden
Time: 08h30 to 12h30
Easy steps to drawing a garden plan
Time: 13h30 to 16h30
Date: Saturday 18 November
The courses include notes, and lunch and attendance certificate.

Bookings: Contact Lindsay for bookings or further information on Mobile: +27 82 44 99 237 Email: [email protected]

Cottages

If ever there was a “most magical” time of year for birders to stay in our cottages, then I think this would be it. The mornings are heralded by the most beautiful birdsong, and all through the day the Paradise Flycatchers, Piet-My-Vrou (Red Chested Cuckoo), Boubou Shrike and Orange-Breasted Bush Shrike are calling.

You can be out early and well into the evening, without having to worry about getting home through the traffic. Have a look at our news article onBirdwatching at Random Harvestto see a checklist of the 158 species that we have seen here. The indigenous cottage gardens provide wonderful bird spotting opportunities.

On Wednesday the 15th November 2017 we will host an overnight stay in our cottages that will include an indigenous gardening question and answer evening over a lovely braai.

Just imagine…you can chat about your garden with others that are as mad about their indigenous piece of heaven as you are! This special includes dinner and breakfast, and your overnight stay.

All this for our regular rate R580 per person. What a treat for the middle of the week! Check in time is 14h00, so you have a good relaxing afternoon as well. Check out time by 10h00 on the 16th November. For bookings please contact David on either 072 562 3396 or [email protected]

Wild Orchids South Africa Conference

The Third South African Wild Orchids Conference will be taking place in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, from the 19th to the 21st of January 2018

Part of the conference activities is a visit to view the orchids and wildflowers of the magnificent Verloren Vallei. For more information, go to their website www.wildorchids.co.za

On The Farm

Do you know that I live in paradise here at Random Harvest? It is 6.00am and I have just been down to the grassland in the Golf cart. My goodness…. the droplets of moisture on the leaves of the grass were shining like millions of diamonds in the early morning sun. Just beautiful and uplifting.

Not only are the mornings beautiful but the evenings are as well. I took this picture at full moon behind an Acacia xanthophloea (Fever tree). This picture is quite dark and doesn’t convey the magical feeling there was in my garden. I think we don’t look up at the sky half enough. I was just happy the security called me to check something or I may have missed the moment as well.

The grassland at the bottom of the farm is looking amazing after the burn. There are hundreds of Hypoxis hemerocallidea (African Potato) blooming at the moment. They are in full flower in the morning, and by 2 o’clock the flowers have closed and the veld looks completely different again.

The tiny Hypoxis argentea are also starting to bloom at the moment. They take their chance to bloom and be pollinated before the grasses grow too tall and limit their chances of pollination.

The first wildflower I saw was this little white daisy which I think is Felicia muricata.

The Vernonia oligocephala are in bud and slowly starting to open.

When they are open they are a magnet to all the grassland butterflies which congregate around this plant. I am looking forward to this ballet in the grassland. What a privilege to be witness to it all.

The tiny Kouhoutia amatymbica are still in flower. They look like tiny white Garlic flowers. The amazing thing I noticed is that the flowers are held with their faces to the sky. When they are in seed they bend over gracefully. I have been watching them and the seed heads seem to turn and face with the stem to the prevailing wind. I think it may be a mechanism to distribute the seeds which will be carried off easily. Nature always seems to have an answer.

Happiness is that the Paradise Flycatchers have returned to the garden. Their arrival is something I look forward to each year. When I hear their cheerful calls I know winter is over. Hearing them early in the morning as part of the dawn chorus I wake up with a smile which sets me up for the whole day. Amazing how a tiny bird can make you feel.

The Orange Breasted Bush Shrike has been calling in the treetops for the last month. They very rarely visit us, so this is an exciting bird call to hear. The Bush Shrikes all have amazing, quite haunting calls.

I never thought that we would be lucky enough to get a picture of him but Jeff did his magic and got this lovely picture of him in the Acacia galpinii (Monkey Thorn) in the retail nursery. Listen out for him when next you are here.

Am I not the lucky one to have this view of the Hamerkop from my bedroom? They have been calling a lot and I wonder if they have chicks in the nest. The nest is so high that it is impossible to see anything it contains.

The other day I saw them fishing from the wooden platform at my Mom’s natural pool. They have decimated the fish population in her pond and have now started on this pool.

I must say that if they eat all the fish I will go out and buy a whole lot more for them.

For me it would be money well spent to have the pleasure of these birds in the garden.

The Southern Masked Weavers are now in full breeding plumage and very busy around the bird feeding table.

Talking of the feeding table we had a new visitor just the other day, a Common Waxbill. I remember how excited I was when I saw my first one and now they feel comfortable enough to visit the feeding table in the nursery.

I have almost finished my next water saving effort in the nursery.

The run-off water when we irrigate the plants has always worried me. As you probably know, I have furrows all over the nursery to catch the water and channel it off to the dam. Most times the run-off is never quite enough to reach the dam and most of it evaporates.

I decided to build a sump in the nursery to catch this water. I can then pump it back to one of the irrigation dams. Normally I overdo things and thought I was crazy to build it to hold 5000 litres of water.

To my great surprise this sump filled in just 2 days – how is that for a miscalculation. It goes to show how easy it is to waste water. I never in a million years thought I would catch such a huge amount of water. I must say I am really proud of the fact that we try our best not to waste and also of the fact that we run this nursery with only environmentally friendly fertilisers and pesticides.

Enough of blowing our own trumpet.

The flowers this spring have been really beautiful. I know I am always putting pictures of the Erythrina latissima (Large Leaved Coral Tree). Not only are the huge red flowers very showy but look extra special when the leaves start growing. The combination of the bright red and grey green of the leaves is astonishingly beautiful.

When we moved to the farm 48 years ago there was an indigenous orchid, Ansellia gigantica in one of the trees. My mom has been taking off pieces and planting in the forks of other trees in her garden. They have just bloomed and are a wonder to behold.

On my way to the grassland we planted some Aloes and Scilla natalensis (Blue Squill). With the bit of rain we had, they have all sent their flower spikes up. The misty blue spikes are a joy to behold. There aren’t many other plants that are this gorgeous blue colour.

We were asked by a mining company to rescue some plants where they were about to strip mine. These really old Boophone disticha (Fan-leaved Boophone) were some of the plants collected.

In cultivation the bulbs grow incredibly slowly so we were lucky to get these, which we have planted for mother stock. I was not sure if they would bloom in the garden and was thrilled to see them pushing up buds and flowering with these lovely huge flowers.

They only flower for about a week but what is interesting is watching the flowers turn into the distinctive ‘tumbleweed’. This is their very interesting way of distributing their seeds. As the seed heads tumble along the seeds at the tips fall out and start a whole new generation.

I just had to show you this picture of our beautiful Watsonia ‘Persephone’. They have given us a spectacular show in the mother plant pots.

Look out for them as next year we should have them in production.

I just had to share this picture of the miniscule gecko living in the trees behind the offices. I thought he was really cute.

I hope this encourages you to observe your indigenous garden more closely. You are always rewarded with a little surprise. Sometimes it is the tiniest things that thrill you the most.

Happy gardening and here is to looking out for the rain.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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