Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2018

Posted On: Thursday, March 1, 2018

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast

February has been a magical month for us here at the nursery, and I hope for you in your garden too. The wetter weather brings with it wonders such as the beautiful and unusual fungi like these Puffballs and Ink Caps.

The creatures also have food in abundance. As I so often say in my newsletters and to my customers, I am continuously amazed by the life that indigenous plants bring to the garden, and am deeply grateful to share my space with them all.

So after you’ve read my ramblings about all that’s on here, I do hope you can spend some time observing and appreciating your own piece of garden-heaven around you. But for now ... happy reading!

Dates to note over Easter: Please note the following dates that we are open and closed over the Easter Weekend:

CLOSED ON Good Friday: Friday, 30 March and Easter Sunday 1st April, 2018
OPEN ON Easter Saturday and Easter Monday, Saturday 31 and Monday 2 April 2018

In The Nursery

A new Inspiration Garden

Our Highveld Inspiration Garden will be giving way to a Manicured bird-friendly garden. We will be working on this throughout the month of March, with completion just before the beginning of the Easter weekend.

Small properties, even those close to town, can be great areas for wildlife, particularly birds. With the careful use of containers, window boxes and natural elements such as wood and rock, a small space can be a haven for the creatures occurring in that area.

I am using this opportunity to train my retail staff on the amazing array of indigenous plant species that bring birds to the garden. They will be actively involved in the design as well as the installation of the garden.

On the topic of birds, I just had to share this picture with you. I love to see young people enjoying the birdlife in our nursery.

Monthly Coffee Morning (first Wednesday of every month)
This month: Wednesday 7th March
Topic: The Conscious Gardener.
RSVP: No need to book or RSVP.
Bring: A notepad and pen, your questions and a friend!

We will talk about how to plan your garden with thought for the environment, the wildlife and your own lifestyle, so that it incorporates all facets of your life and the things you are passionate about.

Next Month the talk will be on the 4th April where we will be talking about gardening for birds in conjunction with the new display.

Gardening Courses by Lindsay Gray
March
Friday 16th March
Domestic Gardener Training - 08h30 - 15h45
Saturday 17th March
Easy Steps to Designing your Garden - 08h30 - 12h30
Easy Steps to Growing your own Vegetables - 13h30 - 16h30

April
Friday 20th April
Domestic Gardener Training - 08h30 - 15h45
Saturday 21st April
Easy Steps to Planting your Garden - 08h30 - 12h30
Easy Steps to Maintaining your Garden 13h30 - 16h30

To book, or for further information, contact Lindsay on [email protected]; Cell : 082 44 99 237

Easter Eco Treasure Hunt

24 March to 15 April, 2018
Random Harvest Nursery’s Easter Eco Treasure Hunt has become somewhat of an institution at this time of year.
Our fresh new take on this, packed with loads of eco-information will run from the 24th of March to the 15th of April.

In the Shop

Bug Hotels And Talk

Have you seen our gorgeous little Bug hotels that we’re selling in the shop? They certainly captured my interest and imagination. Apart from making a lovely gift especially if you want to instil a love in nature in your children. I couldn’t resist this for my own garden ... and the little lady bugs and other creatures will thank you for it too!

Can you believe it took just a week for two of the holes to start being used by solitary bees?

Peter the Bee hotel manufacturer has very kindly offered to do a talk on these cosy insect hide-outs, butterflies and bees. When he sold them to me I was totally fascinated by what he told me and wanted to share it with you.

I’m sure it will interest nature enthusiasts of all ages. Details as follows:

Date: 7th April
Time: 9.00am
Cost: R50.00 including tea and cake
Booking essential: please email [email protected] or call 0825530598.

Life from the Root

It seems as if it is not only my imagination that has been captured by the beautiful little wooden sculptures of elements of nature in our shop.

They have been popular with old and young, and I think they are just gorgeous.

Their simple, organic feel and look make them so tactile.

Nature Journal – there seems to be a growing interest from parents to encourage their children’s appreciation of nature and its wonders.

We have put together a little journal that covers so many aspects of nature in the garden that it will keep young (and old) enthralled for hours. For teachers, it provides a lot of inspiration for lessons in the school grounds too.

The Nature observation kit is a collection of carefully thought out items that help a child to observe and record what can be found in the garden.

A wonderful gift, it includes a Nature Journal as described above.


Plants Looking Good

This is a great time to plant new additions in the garden. They will have the benefit of the rain we’re enjoying and be well settled to burst into new growth after winter.

Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)

(red-orange through to yellow and even creamy white) and Plumbago auriculata (Leadwort) (blue and white flowers) in all their colours, make a magnificent screening hedge.

Not only will it provide greenery all year round, but the fine but densely branched sticks create wonderful hiding places for nesting birds.

I have seen a number of indigenous plantings combined with both Tecomaria and Plumbago, and they are all so pretty through late summer and well into autumn.

Euryops pectinatus (Golden Daisy Bush)

I thought I would share this picture of a new colour Cape Honeysuckle we are growing.

It is a bright tangerine colour and really stands out in the garden.

Another beautiful combination is Plumbago with Euryops pectinatus (Golden Daisy Bush).

The dark blue and vivid yellow go fantastically well.

Remember with both Tecomaria, Euryops and Plumbago you should prune them to keep them in shape and to encourage more mass flowering.



Thespesia acutiloba (Tulip Tree)

With its bold leaves and large, lemon-yellow flowers that are red when in bud, it is an unusual and lovely little show-stopper for a small garden.

Plant in shade or semi-shade.

It can also be planted in full sun but not in a baking hot area.

Bauhinia galpinii (Pride of De Kaap).

This large, sprawling shrub bears the most magnificent terracotta coloured flowers.

If you don’t have the space to use it as a shrub you can train it on up a pergola and create a beautiful climber in the corner of your garden.

Rhamnus prinoides (Dogwood).

This glossy-leaved large shrub bears tiny non-descript flowers but colourful berries almost all year round.

It is very fast growing and needs to be pruned to keep in shape. Its greatest asset is that it attracts both birds and insects to the garden.

It is extremely hardy and does grow in semi-shade it is much more compact when planted in full sun.

Ruspolia hypocrateriformis (Red Ruspolia).

Another robust, sprawling shrub that needs regular pruning. It grows well in sun or shade and can tolerate quite dry conditions.

As with Bauhinia, you can prune it up a trellis and create a beautiful climber.

Its beautiful bright red flowers are borne almost all year round and stand out well in the shade. Butterflies are irresistibly attracted to its flowers.


Plants on Special
– Less 15% for the month of March

Plectranthus fruticosusand P. fruticosus ‘James - Forest Spurflower (E).

A shrublet that thrives in shade has beautiful spikes of pink flowers at this time of year that attract insects and butterflies to the garden.

Prune hard after flowering to ensure next year’s multitude of flowers.

Bersama lucens - Glossy White-ash (E).

A fairly hardy, evergreen, small, compact tree with a well-developed crown and beautiful blotchy, wrinkled, grey bark.

The young leaves are a brilliant glossy russet brown, turning dark green when mature.

The small greenish-white flowers, in long narrow heads, appear from Sept. to June and are followed by green capsules that split to reveal scarlet seeds that attract birds.

It is a beautiful, decorative tree for a shady to semi-shady part of the garden.


On The Farm

The birds have been really busy at Random Harvest this month. Two of the most exciting sightings are the Jacobin Cuckoo and White Stork.

Ashley managed to get a picture of a Jacobin Cuckoo at the dam. This is a new and exciting addition to our already impressive bird list. We are now standing on 162 species seen inside the fence of Random Harvest.

I realise this is not the best picture of the White Stork but I did need to have proof that we actually did see him. This is only the second time we have seen them at Random Harvest.

The Panicum schinzii which is an annual is in full seed and just trembling with seed eating birds. This is a picture of the Pin-tailed Whydah feasting. He has been so busy displaying for his potential mate that I am sure he regularly needs to replenish his energy.

This grass is always full of seed-eating birds such as the Common Waxbill, and of course, to my delight, the Golden Bishops have also been tempted back by to the dam by the abundant food.

Luckily Jeff managed to get a lot better picture of the Golden Bishop which I am sharing with you here.

The Red-knobbed Coot babies are really getting big now and the parents are starting to build another nest. Hopefully they will have their new babies out before winter.

The Coots and Egyptian Geese are still at war in the dam. The Coots really protect their young very aggressively which is probably why they breed so successfully, while the Egyptian Geese are sissies. It is most likely why they have so many babies of which only a small percentage survive.

The most exciting bird breeding at the dam were the miniscule Malachite Kingfisher. They hatched out two beautiful tiny little babies. How exciting is this?

Another baby we saw for the first time was a juvenile Grey Heron. They must have bred somewhere in the reed bed. Unfortunately, we missed seeing the nest.

The Purple Heron are at the dam all the time. I am sure this is the devil that ate most of the Egyptian Goose babies.

I think the Blacksmith Lapwings are enjoying a well-earned rest at the dam after all the energy they expended on breeding. They are constantly foraging on the edge of the dam.

The Guinea fowl have bred more prolifically this year than I have seen in all the years we have lived at Random Harvest (48 Years to be exact, unbelievable). There are so many Guinea Fowl now that I may have to think about feeding them in winter.

I think I work just to feed the birds between the bird feeding station in the nursery and now the Guinea fowl it costs a fortune.

We have been turning over our compost. This is a bonus for the birds who congregate in masses to feast on the worms and insects that are exposed. This Cattle Egret is enjoying a juicy larva of a Rhino Beetle.

I would like to mention that if you see what looks like a giant cut worm in your compost, it is not in fact a cut worm but a Rhino Beetle which is a good sign for naturally produced compost and will not damage your plants in any way.

Loving the birds and encouraging them to take up residence at Random Harvest can be a double edged sword. As you can see the Red-faced Mouse birds are happily feasting on our fig crop.

My mom and I are having to cover some of the fruit with little gauze bags to be able to harvest some fruit for ourselves, otherwise the birds will just eat it all.

My mom had to build a shade house over her vegetable garden in order to be able to harvest veggies for her kitchen.

The Speckled Mousebirds may look really cute and I do love them, in particular when they sun themselves in the mornings, but they are also greedy little devils and do their fair share of doing me out of my portion of the crops.

Whoever thinks that the sisal nesting logs don’t attract hole nesting birds needs to visit Random Harvest. Within a week of us putting out the nesting logs the Black-collared Barbet are busy excavating their holes.

The Bronze Manikin have been around for a long time but we have never managed to get a picture of them. I am really happy to share our first Manikin picture with you.

The birds have been so active this month I don’t seem to have spoken about much else.

The final bird bit is this charming picture of a Cape Wagtail collecting nesting material in the grass.

The most interesting insect sighting we saw this month was this yellow bee. After much searching I thought it might be a male carpenter bee but could not find a picture in which it is as bright yellow as this.

Luckily Peter who makes the bee hotels checked it out for me and I was indeed right it is a male Carpenter bee.

It is amazing just how different it is from this fat black and yellow female Carpenter bee.

Back to the birds, Ashley has just taken this picture of a Southern Masked Weaver eating a pear on the tree.

Not only do I have to contend with the fruit eating birds but now the seed eating birds have also started eating fruit. There is definitely not going to be anything left for my mom and I to harvest. Bad Luck! But I would rather have the birds on the farm.

We had this huge truck coming to collect plants for one of our landscapers.

My staff worked so hard to load the truck properly to minimise damage to the plants. Not only did they pack our plants properly, but went as far as to repack the plants from other nurseries to make sure our customer received his plants in good order. Talk about going the extra mile. I am really proud of them and appreciate their hard work. The plants arrived safely and with no damage in Bloemfontein.

They have really worked hard this month as we also had a huge cattle truck collecting plants that we needed delivered to Namibia. Once again they did such a great job that the plants arrive safely.

We have loaded a video of the nursery onto YouTube. Click on our Youtube link from the website. My mom has told me for years that I am crazy to have such a big nursery. I must say I was shocked myself when I saw just how big this nursery is from the air. Interesting.

The succulent display in the nursery has settled down and is looking beautiful.

I just love the textures and colours of the leaves as well as the beautiful glistening flowers of the Vygies.

This picture of Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Geelplakkie) and Euphorbia mauritanica (Golden spurge) illustrates perfectly just how beautifully you can garden using foliage only.

Sometimes you need someone to remind you of things that would make peoples visit to random Harvest more comfortable.

One of my clients has a disabled husband and really struggled to get to the tea garden. She suggested we make a disabled parking.

The first parking next to the entrance is now a disabled parking. If you need to park in that space please just inform the security at the gate and they will remove the cone. We also have a wheelchair available and my staff will happily push you around the nursery. Please inform reception if you need to avail yourself of this service.

When I take Abby out for a run in the morning it is just beautiful. The mornings are crisp and with the sunlight glowing through the clouds - it is truly beautiful. It gives me a song in my heart and I can’t help singing the song ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’.

The evenings are just as beautiful. I hope you saw this gorgeous red new moon the other night.

These are the kinds of things that make me so grateful for the beautiful home I have.

Hope to see you soon.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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