Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
August! The month of windy dry days, chilly mornings but beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The days have started to get slightly longer, and many of the plants are showing tiny signs of LIFE. Last month I urged you to look up at the sky and enjoy our beautiful clouds and vistas.
This time, take the time to look down and notice how the dead leaves and twigs from autumn and winter have formed a protective blanket in the flower beds. Look a bit closer and you’ll be amazed at the life between this layer of natural mulch and the soil.
A reminder that Friday the 9th of August is Women’s Day…and we are open!
Read more under our events section.
IN THE NURSERY
I am delighted by the colour and diversity of species my staff have carefully chosen to have on display and for sale.
It’s great to have James back too, after his long leave. We’ve missed his smile and gentle personality.
IN THE TEA GARDEN
The winter sun is perfect for basking in and enjoying a breakfast, delicious baked treat or light lunch. A reminder that we host special get-togethers, such as birthday lunches and high teas, off-site meetings and post wedding breakfasts.
Contact Ashley for more information on 011 957 5356 or email: [email protected], or visit our website.
IN THE SHOP
It seems fitting that our book of the month for August is “Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants – a South African Guide” (2nd edition), by Pitta Joffe and Tinus Oberholzer (R37 5.00 excl. postage and packaging).
We were so sad to hear of Pitta’s passing away recently.
Her passion for and knowledge of gardening with Indigenous Plants has inspired countless gardeners to be more adventurous with our beautiful Indigenous flora in their gardens.
The book takes a very practical approach which leads readers to just the right plants to select for their gardens.
New stock of lovely bird feeders and really beautiful hand carved birds has just arrived. When purchasing these, remember you are supporting local talent.
MONTHLY COFFEE MORNINGS
Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
When: 10h30 to 12h00
Cost: Free of charge – we just ask you to please support the nursery and / or the tea garden while you are here.
What to Bring: A notebook and pen, your questions on the topic, and a friend
Date: Wednesday 7th August
Topic: Creating a biodiverse garden in the face of the Shothole Borer and people spraying terrible poisons around.
Extremely topical at the moment is the extensive damage to our trees done by the Shothole Borer Beetle – Euwallaceae.
Date: Wednesday 4th September
Topic: Shade Plants.
I have been approached by many customers looking for indigenous shade plants to put in the garden or in pots on the patio or even indoors. Let’s chat about the various plants that will do well when planted in the shade. We’ll also discuss care of shade plants including some planting tips.
Saturday, 10th August – Lance Robinson
Start time: 7h00 for 7h30 sharp.
Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast after the walk
Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or Ashley on [email protected]
Take a walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. The diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing some of the 168 bird species spotted here. A bird list is supplied.
Binoculars, good walking shoes and a hat are advised for the bird walk.
*Buffet breakfast includes: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Pork or Beef Sausage, Sliced Tomato, Creamed Mushroom, Muesli with milk or yogurt, Fruit salad, Cocktail Rolls, Butter and Jams, Tea, Coffee, Water Jugs, Orange Juice.
WOMENS DAY – FRIDAY 9TH AUGUST
This Women’s Day we salute the women who continue to lead the country forward in all walks of life, through their positive and proactive actions. On Friday the 9th of August all women visiting the nursery will receive a free gift of a bird feeder. We also have some special offerings in our Tea Garden as follows:
• Breakfast buffet at R155 per person. Orders for this taken up to 11.00 am only. Buffet breakfast includes: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Pork or Beef Sausage, Sliced Tomato, Creamed Mushroom, Muesli with milk or yogurt, Fruit salad, Cocktail Rolls, Butter and Jams, Tea, Coffee, Water Jugs, Orange Juice
• Revert to normal menu after 11.00
• Cake and drinks can be ordered all day from 8am to 4:30 pm
• High tea – R160 per person. Children under 12 years ½ price. By booking only – please call Ashley on 011 957 5356 or email [email protected] to book.
LINDSAY GRAY COURSES – SCHOOL OF GARDEN DESIGN
Date Friday, August 16th: Domestic Gardener Training (08h30 – 15h45):
Give your gardener the gift of knowledge! Most languages are catered for on the day. A truly uplifting course! Breakfast, lunch and a certificate of attendance included.
Date Saturday, August 17th: Easy Steps to Designing & Planting your Garden (08h30 – 16h00):
Design is the first step in landscaping. You cannot landscape (or plant) a garden u ntil you have designed it and, for that, you need to understand (a) how to organise spaces so that they meet your needs or that of your client, and (b) the environment to which it is attached.
This course covers key elements of garden design, plant selection and creating habitats for wildlife. Our beautiful nursery also enables Lindsay and her students to explore all the attributes of indigenous plants. Refreshments & lunch included.
For further information, including costs of courses, or to reserve your place, contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]/ or www.schoolofgardendesign.com
You only have to walk into Lavender Tree Cottage to appreciate this bright, airy space and feel like you want to stay for much longer than you booked for. It’s spacious, with place to relax in the lounge and a separate bedroom. If you’re travelling with a child or third person, there is a sleeper couch in the lounge with a super-comfy mattress. The bathroom boasts both a shower and a bath, and the kitchen is well equipped. The patio is lovely for relaxing outside, looking over your own private garden. See our website (Hyperlink) for more information and pictures.
IN THE GARDEN – monthly garden tips
Cutting back veld grasses – If you haven’t already done this, make sure to do so before mid-August. Cut them back to about 2cm above the soil level. Remove the thatch (dead leaves and debris) so that the new spring growth can sprout easily.
Preparing your lawn for spring – August is a good time to start preparing your lawn for spring.
1. Scarify by raking off dry winter “stubble” with a metal rake, and this will also break the long runners that have formed in places
2. Water and Aerate the soil. If it is a small lawn area use a garden fork spiked into the soil, but for large areas a metal spiked roller is best.
3. Broadcast an organic fertilizer (slow release 5:1:5), then apply lawn dressing or compost in a thin layer over the lawn. Random Harvest’s compost works very well for this.
4. Turn the metal rake onto its flat upper side or use a straight edge and scrape over the lawn to fill dents and dips in the lawn surface. This is to spread the compost / lawn dressing (I personally only use compost) out evenly over the lawn surface and fill the holes made by the spike roller. For really deep dents or dips, mix a 50/50 mix of river sand and fine lawn dressing. The river sand with fill the dips and the lawn dressing provides good growing medium for the grass to spread over.
5. If using our compost, scrape all the larger, left over bits together and put them in your flower beds.
6. Water well to let all the soil sink into and fill the dips and dents, and help the grass to absorb nutrients from the soil.
7. If this all sounds like too much hard work, contact Julie on 082-738-4331 for a quote to do it for you.
Design ideas - Make an appointment with Linda or Jeff to assist you with design ideas for your garden or landscaping project. Free assistance is offered at our offices, for those purchasing their plants from Random Harvest Nursery. It will help greatly if you bring along a plan of the property as well as photos of the existing garden, and your ideas of what you would like to create. Site visits can be quoted on and arranged. For appointments contact reception on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]
PLANTS LOOKING GOOD
The Cape-Forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis) is a very hardy perennial with pretty sprays of bright blue flowers that buzz with insect life all day long. Plant in a mixed colourful bed with Diascia and Osteospermum species for a colourful effect.
Bulbine inflata is versatile in the sunny to lightly semi-shady garden. It is an important element of a grassland garden, and is ideal as a rockery or bedding plant. A combination of this yellow-flowered, grass-like plant and the blue-flowered Felicia amelloides makes a stunning display for most of the year, if the dead flowers of both species are removed regularly. A most beautiful feature is its large inflated seed pods which persist on the plants.
Kalanchoe rotundifolia (Common Kalanchoe) can be planted in amongst grasses, in containers or as an element of a succulent garden. This hardy, evergreen, erect succulent groundcover. Bears massed spikes of tubular yellow flowers on branched flowering stems that are a wonderful spectacle during their long flowering time (March to Dec.)
Plectranthus ecklonii ‘Pink’ (Large Spur-flower Bush) Plant this large, fairly hardy Plectranthus now for a beautiful show from Feb. to May. Best in a semi-shade or dappled shade position. Spikes of pink flowers attract insects and butterflies to the garden and therefore also attracts insectivorous birds. The flowers also make beautiful, delicate cut flowers.
Juncus effusus – (Mat-Rush, Common Rush) is a very hardy, evergreen, tufted, perennial, grass-like rush that grows in wet areas as well as in a normally irrigated garden. It is a useful addition to a wetland garden and to help filter water. Plant in well-watered, sunny areas.
PLANTS ON SPECIAL THIS MONTH – Less 15%
Metalasia muricata (White Bristle Bush) is a gift to gardeners from the Fynbos region. This rounded, robust, sturdy shrub has fine needle-like foliage and in winter, is covered in honey-scented clusters of tiny white to pinky-purple flowers. It is useful as a tall filler in flower beds, providing fine grey-green foliage for contrast.
Helichrysum cymosum - Gold Carpet can be planted as a sub-shrub at the edges of treed areas, or can be used as an edging plant in a mixed border. Let it cascade over a retaining wall and containers where it will look spectacular in spring and summer, with compact heads of yellow, papery flowers adorning it. Either prune regularly from young or don’t prune at all as it does not take well to pruning once mature
Felicia filifolia - Fine-Leaved Felicia is a magnificent sight from July to Sept., when it is covered in such prolific mauve, daisy-type flowers that you cannot see the leaves. It can have some flowers on and off throughout the year. Plant this extremely hardy shrub in full sun.
Crassula multicava ‘Purple’ – Purple Fairy Crassula makes a lovely container plant and is gorgeous mass-planted in those difficult dry areas under trees. Hardy and evergreen with leaves that are purple on the underside it provides colour all year round. It bears dainty sprays of pink flowers from May to Nov.
Helichrysum sp. ‘Silver Lace’s lovely, woolly, silver-grey of the foliage adds colour and texture to a mixed border in sun or semi-shade. It also makes beautiful hanging baskets. Cream flowers adorn the plant from Nov. to Jan.
Plectranthus ciliatus - Speckled Spur-flower (E)
Outstanding, groundcover with beautiful, quilted, dark-green leaves with purple undersides and purple stems. It has spikes of white or mauve flowers in late summer and autumn that attract insects and butterflies to the garden. In light shade or semi-shade, areas this attractive groundcover will provide colour both with its leaves and flowers
ON THE FARM
This winter has been very busy cleaning, pruning and doing the myriad of tasks that keep the farm looking well maintained and inviting.
I have been on a mission to prune trees in the nursery and garden. No matter how hard we work you almost can’t see what you have done. We are definitely going to have enough wood to heat our cutting house for a long time.
I must say the trees we have managed to prune are looking marvellous.We have also refurbished the Tea Garden Storeroom in the retail to make an overflow office.
We had a huge algae bloom on the dam. I am not sure what caused this or where it came from,but I think it was too many nutrients that got into the dam. it was choking the dam and we had to do something.
Timothy and Jolam braved the cold water to help try and remedy this. While I plied them with cappuccinos to help keep them warm.
We remove it mechanically with my swimming pool net and then sprayed the algae with vinegar to kill the green parts of the plant.
Vinegar is a good solution to spray with in water as it doesn’t do any harm. I have sprayed the dam a few times with no ill effects.
We are now using Super EM in the dam to help to keep the algae down.
What amazed me is the height of the Papyrus. It is only when you see them against something you can relate to in size do you realise just how tall they are.
The birds kept away when there was so much algae and I am pleased to report that they are coming back.
This weird duo of African Spoonbill and Sacred Ibis are visiting regularly again.
Jeff and were so mad when we visited that dam a few days ago. There was a Glossy Ibis on the dam. This uncommon bird was so camouflaged against the water that we only saw him when we were a little too close and he took off before Jeff could get his camera out. Really disappointing.
The Yellow-billed Ducks are now visiting regularly – maybe we will be lucky enough to have them breed there.
The Egyptian Geese were breeding on top of the Hamerkop nest again. They were very noisy in the mornings.
So Jeff was chatting to one of the other staff members when he told Jeff how the babies come down from so high up. He said he saw the adults carry a baby in their beaks and gently hop down the tree from branch to branch gently place them on the ground.
Jeff was so mad that no-one called him to take a picture. After how they got told off by Jeff I am sure they will never neglect to call him again when they see something so interesting.
This Cardinal Woodpecker has bored himself a nest in the Acacia sieberiana (Paper Bark) in the Tea Garden. Now our guests will be able to enjoy their cup of coffee whilst doing a bit of bird-watching.
Ashley managed to get this amazing picture of a Grey Hornbill at the bird feeding table in the nursery. Perfect timing.
Our Youtube channel has a video of the woodpecker's progress.
The Sunbirds have been very busy gorging on the copious nectar that is offered by the Aloe and Wild Dagga flowers.
I love the picture of the Juvenile Amethyst Sunbird on the Aloe while the adult one chose to feed off the Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga).
Fire is always a worry at this time of the year especially when we have cut and baled a lot of veld grass for making compost. We have had one compost fire that was ferocious and don’t need another one.
We cut the grass around the compost, wet the bales and started burning a fire break around the compost.
No matter how careful you are there is always the chance of an errant ember flying around. My heart was in my throat until this scary job was done.
One minute the Western Cattle Egrets were sitting peacefully on the compost heap enjoying the warmth generated there and were able to enjoy the odd juicy Rhino Beetle Larvae.
The next moment they had a rude awakening when the machine arrived to make the potting soil.
They were not fazed at all, and just used the opportunity the machine gave them for an easy meal as it turned the compost over.
I loved this picture of the 3 Fiscal Flycatchers posing on a Namib Grape (Cyphostemma juttae).
What about these little Cape White-eyes cuddling up together to keep warm?
The wonder of a biodiverse, indigenous garden is that one is always rewarded with these little cameos of sheer delight. If your garden can encourage you to take a few moments out of a frenetic lifestyle to just be and enjoy the wonders of nature around you it has fulfilled what a garden should be. This is also a reward for the time and love spent on and in a garden.
I spend my life encouraging wildlife and birds to visit or live on the farm. This can sometimes be a double-edged sword.
I think we now have Porcupine here. When I see the damage done to the bulbs in the open ground I am sure he has found the happy, feeding ground. It is now up to Jeff and I to find where he is living and hopefully get a picture to share with you. Needless to say it is now going to cost a lot to make raised beds to grow the bulbs in. One of the joys of being crazy about nature and the wildlife around us.
In a nursery weather is always of interest and importance.
After the cold snap we had, the water in the water plant ponds has sheets of ice on it. The thing that amazed me most is these cylinders of ice that came out of the water pipes. I haven’t seen ice like this for years.
Fortunately, it didn’t damage any plants and they are thriving.
What I love most about the low light in winter is how it shows the plants off. The light shining behind the Red-hot Pokers was enchanting, like swords of light.
It is so amazing just how quickly the light changes after mid-winter and how quickly the days seem to get longer. Every morning I notice the day length as I go to the nursery at about 6h00. The sky is really beautiful in the mornings. But it is not only the day length but the quality of light that gets brighter on a daily basis that heralds the growing season. I can’t wait to see the new tender green leaves and how spring changes the environment.
Time to go out and watch your garden grow.
Happy spring – enjoy it.
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