Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
Wherever this first newsletter of 2018 finds you, may it be in a place that you can surround yourself with indigenous plants and the wonderful creatures that are associated with them.
December has been an amazing month of encounters with these creatures here at Random Harvest.
Read more in the “on the farm” section of this newsletter.
It seems appropriate that we share this here – a picture of a new baby Cape Dwarf Gecko.
Happy 2018 to you all.
Coffee Morning with Linda
Wednesday, 7 February, 2018
Topic: Waterwise Indigenous Plants
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
RSVP: No need to book or RSVP.
Bring: A notepad and pen, your questions and a friend!
Grouping plants with similar water requirements is, to me, an essential factor in determining the success of a beautiful garden. We will chat about a selection of indigenous plants that grow well together because of similar water requirements, and look fantastic grouped together.
Birdwalk with Andre Marx
Date: 27th January 2018
Time: 6h30 for 7h00
RSVP to book your spot as soon as possible as these walks book up so fast.
Bring: Binoculars, Walking shoes, A hat and sunscreen
Cost: R155.00 including a buffet breakfast
We have recorded 4 new bird species, so our list now stands at 162 species recorded at Random Harvest. I am very excited about this. These species have been discovered on our regular bird walks!
Verloren Valei field trip
My friend Shelly is organising a field trip to Verloren Valei. It is absolutely magical at this time of the year with its grasslands in bloom and the many orchids that occur there. It is really worth spending a magical day there. Here are the details:
Date: Saturday, 11 February 2018.
Cost: R45 each plus tips (includes a local guide).
Bookings: Final booking date: 23 January. Contact Shelley Addis: 083 409 7927 or [email protected]
Details: Meet in Dullstroom then travel through to Verloren Valei in convoy. The journey can be done from Johannesburg early that morning. Travel time 3 to 3 and a half hours. Shelly can arrange accommodation for those that want to sleep over the night before (approx R350 pp per night).
Gardeners Courses by Lindsay Gray
Friday 19th January 8h30 to 15h45 – Domestic Gardeners Course
Saturday 20th January 8h30 to 12h00 – Easy steps to designing your garden
13h30 to 16h30 – Easy steps to maintaining your garden
Friday 16th February 8h30 to 15h45 – Domestic Gardeners Course
Saturday 17th February 8h30 to 12h00 – Easy steps to planting your garden
13h30 to 16h30 – Easy steps to drawing a garden plan
In The Shop
The Season to be Merry has left a lot of us with quite empty pockets, so we thought we’d have some fun putting together mystery discounts from 1 to 28 February. This applies to our retail nursery only, and excludes the shop and our wholesale nursery.
Catch up with a good gardening book. We have a number in stock, including the following:
Highveld Grass seed mix
An amazing mix of Highveld grass seed is available in our shop now.
It will cover a 25m2 area.
Wiebke Biemond’s two large artworks are gracing our walls.
They look beautiful on our verandah, and I can imagine how lovely they would look in a well-lit area of someone’s house.
Prices on request.
The picture doesn’t do them justice, so please pop in to have a look when you are next here at the nursery.
In The Tea Garden
Special tea / lunch functions are fast becoming popular in our tea garden.
Please do remember that we are a super venue for groups such as book clubs and other special interest groups to meet.
We do have covered areas to meet should the weather not be conducive to al fresco get togethers.
In The Nursery
The birds have certainly enjoyed our Christmas tree for the birds which has now become a regular over the Christmas season.
Before they totally bankrupt me with their appetite for seed and suet, we have sadly taken the “treat tree” down, much to their disgust.
We will of course still be feeding them in our regular tree but they seem attracted to the brightly decorated Christmas tree and become really tame. You can view a video of the happy birds Here.
We have already started on our new succulent display garden, which will hopefully be ready in a week or two.
Plants Looking Good
Nerine laticoma - Veli Lily (E); Vleilelie (A).
A gorgeous deciduous bulb for containers or rockeries or a flowering meadow garden.
Does well in compost rich soil in sun or semi-shade
Snowflake Grass (E); Kleinwitbaardgras (A).
This hardy grass is ornamental and easy to manage in the garden. It is also a good soil stabiliser for slopes.
Senecio tamoides - Canary Creeper (E); Kanarieklimop (A)
I love the way this hardy succulent climber with its sunshine yellow flowers tumbles over retaining walls or down a bank. It flowers at the same time as the blue Plumbago auriculata and the two together make a spectacular show.
A hardy evergreen, upright shrub with bright green leaves and pretty blue flowers that look like little hands facing the sun. This is a beautiful shrub for small gardens. Plant in sun or semi-shade.
African Wattle (E); Huilboom (A This tree is looking spectacular at the moment. Their spikes of golden yellow, frilly flowers are a sight to behold, and attract many pollinating insects and birds to the garden with their nectar. It does best in a sunny position but will tolerate semi-shade well.
Small Heart Seed Grass (E); Hartjiesgras (A). A beautiful grass for any garden. It encourages seed-eating birds with its relatively large seeds, and is a great addition to a mixed flower and grass garden, as it does not grow too tall (up to 50cm). It does best with regular watering, and will tolerate sun or semi-shade.
Kalanchoe sexangularis - Kalkoentjies (A)
This is a stunning plant for colour and texture contrast in the succulent garden.
It is extremely hardy and, if in full sun, will remain bright maroon-red all year round.
It also does well in semi-shade, but won’t turn as maroon-red.
Falling Stars (E); Vallende Sterretjies (A).
From January to June, the dainty swaying orange flowers give any garden an ethereal feel.
It is a hardy plant for semi-shade areas, but can tolerate shade and also sunny areas, as long as the soil does not get too hot.
Corky-barked Thorn (E); Kurkbasdoring (A).
The Corky-barked Thorn is a hardy, drought-resistant, deciduous small Acacia That is ideal for small gardens.
The flowers attract many pollinating insects, which, in turn, attract insectivorous birds.
Notes for the Garden
I’m sure there is no need to remind anyone that we are entering one of the hottest times of the year in South Africa. A blanket of mulch on bare soil can reduce upper soil temperatures dramatically, thus reducing a lot of stress on your plants.
We have wood chip mulch in stock that is very environmentally friendly. It is valuable to the soil microbes and other subterranean creatures that feed on it and use it as shelter or benefit from the cooler soil underneath it.
Spread it on the soil surface of plant containers, or on the garden soil, in a layer 2 to 5 cm thick. It is available from the nursery in 30dm or 60dm bags.
The downpours we have had can also leach the soil of minerals and organic matter, so adding a good organic compost such as our “home-brew” is essential. One 30dm bag covers approximately 1 square meter of garden.
On The Farm
The grassland walk and talk we had last month was a real hit with all of us. We went for a walk and sat in the grassland just to feel the magic of the place. It is seldom that we get up close and personal with our beautiful natural places. I think the people who participated were blown away.
We then went to sit in the garden and talk about how we can create a meadow garden. By the way the word ‘prairie’ that is used for grasslands is a French word that means meadow.
Jonathan set up a beautiful specimen table of plants that can be used to create a meadow garden.
I just loved this little display so we replicated it in the nursery last week for everyone to enjoy.
I thought I would share these two pictures of flowers and insects in the grassland.
The first is the African Monarch butterfly on a Vernonia. The Vernonia’s attract so many butterflies that from far they look like multi-coloured flowers on the bush.
The Wild Poppy (Papaver aculeata) is so papery and delicate it is a joy to behold. Add to that, the number of insects and bees that rely on it to help them sustain life, make it a truly beautiful and magical plant to have in the garden.
After the heatwave we experienced, the downpour of rain we had was a blessing. The garden looked beautifully misty and cool.
Even the lights on the Christmas Tree seemed to twinkle more brightly in the cool aftermath.
The Southern Red Bishops were back to their bountiful, feeding tree in no time.
The birds have been busy and very vocal around the farm and Jeffrey managed to get some lovely pictures for me to share with you.
The most exciting bird sighting this month was the Jameson’s Firefinch which is now the latest addition to our ever growing bird list.
The Crowned Lapwing babies are growing up and the Wattled Lapwings have babies.
The fact that they can become adult is a testament to our dedication to chasing the multitude of Pied Crows that prey on them.
The crows are becoming a real problem as they are attracted to our human waste. There are now so many of them that they are creating havoc with the birds.
But! At Random Harvest we chase them all the time to protect our birds and their babies.
This Lesser Honeyguide was very busy poking around in the holes in the trees looking for his favourite meal of bee larvae, beeswax and other insects.
How lucky was Jeffrey to get this beautiful picture of the tiny, very active Neddicky. It is seldom that they sit still enough out in the open to get a picture.
There must be a feast of insects in the grassland as I have never seen so many Black Headed Heron stalking around and hunting. They are sometimes in groups of 6 to 8, which for us is really unusual.
The Red-knobbed Coot claimed the dam as their own and sadly chased the Moorhens that have been there for years.
They did reward us by hatching these four beautiful chicks. They are good parents and very protective of their brood.
We had a few Bullfrog breeding at the grassy edges of the dam. Not as many as the last few years, but still, they did come and for this I am really grateful.
The male bullfrog is very protective of his babies but the Herons still take their chances to make a meal of the tadpoles.
I am sure this is why the reason that the Green-backed Heron is so visible and active.
The White Throated Swallows have been feeding their new brood of babies in the dead tree at the dam.
Jeffrey managed to get this beautiful action shot of them begging for food.
Pity it is a little out of focus.
There have been a lot of mushrooms around due to the good rains we had before Christmas. These tiny white mushrooms are Termitomyces microcarpus. They grow in the soil around termite nests.
If you look closely they are tinier than the grains of sand. They mature into tiny umbrellas which, I am told, are edible. You would need to pick thousands for just one mouthful. Too much work for too little reward.
How amazing are these tiny orange mushrooms growing in amongst the mosses on the trunk of the Tipuana in the parking area? They are Favolaschia thwaitsii. Lucky I have someone who helps me with identification of fungi.
The really interesting Little orange fungus growing in amongst the Lichens of the Gymnosporia buxifolia (Spike thorn) - the lady who does the ID thinks is Teloschistes cf chrysophthalmus. She was quite surprised as this species mainly occurs in Namibia.
The Pterocarpus rotundifolius (Round Leafed Teak) amazed me by blooming again this season with its beautiful luminous flowers. I think the mother plant beds in front of it look gorgeous as well. A lovely sight in the nursery.
The Arid Garden display in the nursery has developed into a peaceful beautiful corner. It has turned out even better than I thought it would and with minimal maintenance.
I am always happy to see spiders and other insects roaming in the nursery.
The mulch is especially rich in insect life.
This always validates our dedication to growing our plants naturally without the use of pesticides.
We have been weeding the grassland again, which is a mission, but when you are rewarded with beautiful plants like this Pelargonium luridum and Vernonia oigocephala it is all worthwhile. It is also worth the amount of money I spend on wages to do so.
Finally, a last picture of another stunning grassland plant (unfortunately we don’t have any growing naturally at Random Harvest.) It is Xerophyta viscosa. How beautiful is this? This is a mother -plant, so we’ll have wait a while before they are available for sale.
If you walk past it when it has no flowers you would think it is just another grass.
I wish you all the best for 2018….. may you be blessed and happy.
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