Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
After a shivery July, spring is in the air.
Amazing to think that in another few weeks everything will be budding and sprouting.
There are a few (confused I think) Southern Masked Weavers visiting the bird feeding table wearing their full breeding plumage already.
With spring rushing towards us I had to share this picture of the full moon shining through the trees in the nursery when I arrived at work.
These sights will soon be over for another year as the sun rises earlier and earlier, and I will soon be arriving at work in daylight.
I am pleased we had this cold snap as it stopped the huge Oak in my garden from shooting too early. Although it is not indigenous it is over a hundred years old and I would hate it if this tree were to die. It would leave a huge hole in the garden.
In The Nursery
Visit us on Women’s Day the 9th August. There will be a small gift awaiting all the women as a token of our appreciation for their support.
BREAKFAST BUFFET ONLY 08h00 – 11h30– A mouth-watering spread of Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, mushroom, tomato, toast, yoghurt, muesli and fruit, as well as delicious bran muffins. All this, including fruit juice and tea or coffee for only R155.00 per person.
HIGH TEA 14h00 – 16h30 - a delectable array of treats as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat. Including fruit juice and tea or coffee, for only R160.00 per person. Booking only. Contact Ashley on 011 957-5356 to reserve your space
11h30 – 16h30 Order from the menu
Drinks and cake off the menu will be available all day
We look forward to welcoming you to Random Harvest on this special day.
Grow Organic 1.0 - Urban Gardening
We are really pleased to welcome Joy Phala who will be running her Grow Organic Workshops here at Random Harvest:
I was a speaker at the last and thoroughly enjoyed it.
You will learn the fundamentals of organic gardening and create your own urban oasis with vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. Gain confidence in knowing that only the best has gone in to creating the food that lands on your plate Joy is a Landscape Designer and Founder of Organic Kitchen Gardens.
Date: 18 August 09h00 – 16h30
Venue: Random Harvest Nursery
Bookings: www.okitchengardens.com/course Email: [email protected]
Bulb Division - a talk
The Highveld Bulb Society will be hosting a talk by Allan Tate on how to propagate bulbs by division.
Allan is a real expert on this and generously shares his vast knowledge with all.
Date: Saturday 11th August, 2018
Venue: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
Cost: R50.00 which goes to the Bulb Society.
Random will provide tea and cake at no cost.
Preparing your lawn for summer and how to change from the invasive Kikuyu lawn to LM Lawn without disrupting your garden.
Date: Wednesday, 5 September, 2018
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Topic: Growing indigenous plants from seed.
Mike and Jonathan will share their experiences of sowing seeds.
Lindsay Gray - Domestic Gardener & Gardening Workshops
August sees the courses by Lindsay Gray beginning again. The courses are as follows:
Friday, 3 August
Domestic Gardener Training (employers welcome to attend)
Time: 08h30 - 15h45
Saturday, 4 August 08h30 – 12h30
Easy Steps to Designing your Garden
13h30 – 16h30
Easy Steps to Maintaining your Garden
Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for further information
Topic: Propagating indigenous plants from seed.
Date: Saturday, 25 August, 2018
Time: 09h30 – 12h30
Cost: R50.00 per person – This includes coffee, tea and rusks on arrival and mid-morning coffee, tea and cake.
Mike and Jonathan will share their insights and methods with you and give you the tools for growing your own indigenous plants from seed.
This is an exciting time to be birdwatching with the migrants starting to return and all getting ready for breeding.
Andre or Lia will kindly continue with leading bird walks at Random Harvest.
The weather will be much milder and walking in the grassland at this time of year is a treat.
The dates are as follows: (Please note start time)
August 18 – Time: 7h30 for 8h00
September 22 – Time: 7h00 for 7h30
COST: R155.00 which includes welcome drinks of coffee and rusks and after the walk a generous breakfast buffet.
Random Harvest Bed and Breakfast.
We are pleased to let you know that there is now DSTV in the cottages.
You can enjoy farm life and still be able to watch your favourite channels
This Month’s Specials
To help you to prepare your garden for spring our own home made compost is on special.
For every 5 bags purchased you will get one bag free.
The retail nursery special of 10% discount on all trees will continue for the month of August
Cut back Grasses
If you have grasses in your garden, now is the time to start cutting them back. They need to be pruned right back to about 3 – 5 cm above the soil level. One must then rake out all the thatch that is composting on the tufts.
This is important as grasses are the only plants that grow from the ground up and not from a growing tip, and the tufts trap fungus-causing moisture around the growing tip, and block out light that is required for healthy growth.
Compost Mulch and Fertilise
Now is the time to start adding compost to your garden. Put down a layer of at least 5cm thick over your garden beds. Then fork it in to a depth of about 10cm. If the compost is active, as is the one we make at Random Harvest, it will help restore and sustain the micro life in your soil.
Then add a generous layer, 5 to 8cm to cover the soil. If you look at the picture of the mulch and just see how thick the ice on the mulch was – think how the plants would suffer if that ice was on the ground and freezing their tiny hair roots. Conversely the mulch will also keep the soil cool and protect the roots. It also helps to minimise evaporation.
Plants Looking Good
This is a very hardy, dense shrublet (30 to 40cm) that looks like a grey sphere in a sunny spot of the garden.
Its silver leaves are tipped with almost lime green new shoots during the growing season.
It bears typical everlasting flowers but is primarily an attractive foliage plant with its small upright leaves
Eumorphia prostrata - Silver cloud
Another fabulous, silver plant to add colour and texture to your garden. The common name Silver Cloud is really appropriate as the fine silver leaves create puffs of contrasting foliage in the garden.
It is very pretty when in flower as it bears masses of white, everlasting flowers that are held well above the leaves.
Geranium incanum - Carpet Geranium
This wonderful, fast growing, groundcover is very versatile. It looks amazing around a water feature where it will float as long as its roots are dry. It cascades gracefully over the edge of containers and hanging baskets as well as being a pretty garden plant.
It has fine feathery leaves and large light purple flowers which the insects in the garden just love visiting to collect pollen.
Aloe rupestris - Bottlebrush Aloe
Look forward to the reds and scarlets of spring with this interesting red Aloe which will will grow in shade.
It is a fine single-stemmed Aloe that bears unusual bottle-brush type flowers.
When planted in conjunction with the red Aloe ciliaris and Erythrina species it makes a spectacular and warm show in the garden.
Ornithogalum juncifolium - Grass leaved Chincherichee
Once again the common name is very appropriate as this bulb looks like a bright green, tuft of grass, that then bursts forth with massed spikes of dainty white flowers.
It is evergreen, although the dead leaves should be removed in winter in time for the plant to bear its massed white flowers.
The picture depicts the grass-like leaves and it is just coming into bud so there are only one or two flowers at the moment.
Jasminum multipartitum - Starry Wild Jasmine
The earliest flowering of the indigenous Jasmines, it is covered in fragrant white flowers in early spring.
In the picture I have allowed it to grow wildly, which I love, but if you don’t have the space it takes equally well to being pruned and trained just the way you would like it to be.
One of the joys of spring is when these beautiful little groundcovers start to flower with their cheerful colourful flowers that range from scarlet, orange, pinks and even pure white.
They require sun and well-drained soil and will reward you with flowers almost all year round, but with the best display in spring.
Pavonia praemorsa – Yellow Pavonia
This medium-sized, evergreen shrub is one of my favourite plants.
It has fresh green, rounded leaves which in their own right are an attractive feature of the plant. The smallish, buttercup yellow flowers are about 3cm to 4cm across, and are borne in profusion.
It is a great shrub for a container and is useful in smaller gardens that do not have space for large shrubs.
On The Farm
Not only the birds and the bees have been busy at Random Harvest but we have been re-arranging the whole nursery and creating new lines so that we can grow more water plants and succulents.
I get these great ideas forgetting just how much work needs to be done. But thanks to my wonderful staff we are well on the way.
I also decided to mix all my compost this month. It is now that I realise why I love my compost so much. It is so active that when the machine moved the heap it looked as if the compost was on fire with all the smoke that emanated from it.
Not only do Jeff and I love the compost heaps but the birds had a feast of the grubs that were exposed while mixing.
I am sharing some of the moments with the birds with you.
Last month I shared the picture of the brown-hooded Kingfisher in the grass on the compost heaps. From this picture of him eating a big juicy larva of the Rhino Beetle we know why he was so busy on the heap.
The African Wattled Lapwing and Cattle Egrets came for their fair share as well.
These were just a few species flying around the machine looking for their next meal. Not only do I love the birds there but am so proud of the amazing, great smelling compost we make. With spring just around the corner the other birds on the farm have been busy as well.
The Hamerkop has decided to make his huge nest even bigger and more comfortable. He is collecting grass and all manner of other litter he can find. Random Harvest is so clean I wonder where he collects all the rubbish from.
We have been hearing the haunting call of the Grey-headed Bush Shrike just behind the nursery. Jeffrey got this picture of him. What he was doing at the time is eating a dead Mousebird. Jeffrey was shocked but the hooked tip of his beak tells a story that he eats meat, amphibians and insects.
Another meat-eater around is the Black-shouldered Kite. Here he is using the very top of an Faidherbia albida (Ana Tree)
I am really happy to say that the Moorhens are back. I saw them once or twice but they were very shy, not cheeky like the last pair that were there.
The new residents are now also getting tamer and not rushing to hide but taking a leisurely swim to their nesting site. Happiness!!It is pretty amazing how comfortable the birds are getting and thus more visible.
This Yellow-fronted Canary used to be a rare sight. We now see them regularly, and instead of flying away they just carry on with their lives. Here he is perched on a Melinus nerviglumis (Bristle Leaved Red Top) grass eating the seeds.
The Aloes in the open ground are looking breath-taking. The various colour of orange, red and yellow are all so beautiful you wouldn’t know which to choose.
Often a myth is perpetuated about certain plants. One of these is Aloe castanea (Cat’s-tail Aloe) which people say that neither insects or birds use as the nectar is poisonous. But observing these plants you will find that the insects, and in particular, the birds will use this Aloe before most others.
This is an observation that Jeff and I have made over many years. So much for that story I can unequivocally say that is just a myth and the birds and insects love this Aloe.
Now that we have cut and baled the grass on the farm, the Cape Longclaw is very visible and has started displaying for a mate.
The bales that we stockpile to make compost have become useful to prevent soil erosion of our heaps of red soil that we use to make our potting mix. Here Gideon is laying them on top of the red soil. This is in the hopes of all the rain we will be getting this season. How is that for optimistic?
I am always quite amazed at just how many butterflies we see in winter. Being cold-blooded I would never have thought we would see so many in this chilly season.
This is the first picture Jeff has managed to get of a Meadow White butterfly. Quite surprising as it is a common species.
Having so many of the host plants of the Painted Lady Butterfly in the nursery is the reason why we see it so often. If you would like residents in your garden plant Arctotis, Gazania and Arctotheca and you will also be rewarded by seeing this beautiful creature in your garden.
To ensure you have resident Yellow Pansy Butterflies in the garden plant Asystasia gangetica (Creeping Foxglove), Chaetacanthus setiger and Barleria species.
We saw these interesting insects and once again Mike has identified and imparted invaluable information. Observing nature really keeps one interested in life.
Gregarious caterpillars of a lappet moth (Eutricha).
The caterpillars feed at night on leaves of a wide range of trees, both exotic and indigenous.
By day they aggregate in conspicuous clusters, and are protected from almost all predators (apart from cuckoos) by their long detachable hairs and shorter stinging (urticating) hairs.
These are incorporated into their leathery cocoons.
The larvae of the Silver-striped hawkmoth (Hippotion osiris) feed at night and hide by day under leaves – their presence is betrayed by piles of large droppings beneath partially eaten leaves. Larvae feed on grapevines, Arum, Impatiens, carrot tops and, in the wild, on Acacia, Rumex, Galium and Epilobium. Adults are migratory.
The small Broad-bordered Grass Yellow (Eurema brigitta) is a common butterfly in the summer rainfall parts of the country, with bright yellow wings ending in a small black crescent.
The larvae feed on St John’s Wort (Hypericum aethiopicum) and English Tea Senna (Chamaecrista mimosoides).
As you can see it is not only the birds who visit our feeding table – the bees are also using the fruit as a food source.
Nice to know the table is not only for the birds.
I wanted to share this picture of the Euphorbia ingens (Giant Euphorbia) in the garden flowering.
It definitely is not a tree for a small garden but makes a beautiful feature in larger garden.
Spring is definitely in the air when the turkeys start displaying. Here’s hoping that they nest soon and bring out their chicks.
We ran a one-day course for the gardeners of Darrenwood Village. Here they are proudly displaying their certificates. They really seem to have left the nursery all fired up and determined to garden more in tune with nature.
I wanted to share this last picture of the season that I am able to take on my way to the office.
This is sunrise with a cold front looming and a gorgeous quarter moon.
Living on this beautiful farm I am so grateful to be able to see such beautiful sights on a daily basis.
Hope to see you soon – it is time to get your garden goodies out and start the whole new season with all its joys and surprises.
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