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Random Harvest Newsletter - July 2020

Posted On: Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I am so relieved that we are past mid-winter and the days will slowly become longer, and I hope much warmer.

There was one thing about this huge cold front that blanketed the Highveld and that was a few spectacular sunrises.

Once again thank you so much for your generous donations to our food parcel drive. We got a very generous donation from a client who lives in Luxemburg and have to date provided 2700 food parcels. Incredible! You have made a huge difference in many people’s lives.

If I could take advantage of your generous hearts once again and ask you to donate it would be greatly appreciated.

There are still many people ravaged by the effects of Lockdown, and my sister and I continue to try and provide some form of relief to those that we can.

The banking details are FNB Featherbrooke 25-07-41 Account number 51441129818

IN THE NURSERY

A reminder that, in order to properly sanitise the nursery and keep it safe for you, our customers, we have adjusted our trading hours. We are open from 8am to 4pm daily, including Sundays and most public holidays.

We have had quite heavy frost this year. Thanks to our use of Agrisil to help combat the frost we have had only minimal damage. I must say I think we needed this cold as there were a few pests building up in the nursery – something we have never had to contend with. The frosty weather should help combat this.

Our customers have so loved sitting on the benches in the garden.

As it was so cold, we added a fire to warm them.

I just loved to see everyone relaxing in the garden so in line with all the requests I have had, I am going to leave the benches there for everyone to enjoy, even when this revolting Corona virus scare is over.

We also added some logs to sit on down at the dam, where you can do a spot of bird watching. It is a great place to sit and enjoy a takeaway meal or just to relax and be at one with nature.

It looks like when we open the tea garden, we will have to take everyone’s temperature, name and contact details. I am sorry to have to inconvenience you, but we will try to make it as pain free as possible.

Remember to use our delivery services and reduce your logistic plans.

Feel free to ask for Linda, Jeffrey or Jonathan for advanced knowledge on plant habits and care.

IN THE SHOP

Book of the month

With so many butterflies flitting around in the garden at the moment I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the book ‘There is a butterfly in my garden’ by Lievke Noyens

Dog blankets – excellent quality, super-comfy dog blankets are guaranteed to keep your furry companions warm this winter.

Coffee – Random Harvest’s delicious, bold and aromatic ground coffee and coffee beans are available in our shop. Suitable for coffee plungers and percolaters.

Wooden birds – The beautiful wood grain accentuates the fluid shapes of the birds – somehow capturing the essence of each species depicted.

Chilli sauces – Not for the faint-hearted, these sauces are nice and spicy without compromising on delicious flavour.

Sewing kits – So handy to have around, and they make great gifts too.

EVENTS

Facebook Live session: Monthly coffee morning
When: Wednesday 1 July 2020, at 10h30
Topic: In the winter garden with Linda.

Join Linda for coffee and a chat about some of the plants that are really looking great at the moment.

She’ll share growing tips, how she likes to use them in the landscape and, of course, chat about some of the creatures that they bring to the garden.

She’ll also talk about some lovely cut foliage plants.

Wednesday 5 August 2020, at 10h30
Topic: Gardening chat, question and answer session.
Cost: Free!
Pending current situations, we will be hosting a monthly coffee morning at Random Harvest Nursery. We haven’t chatted in such a long time that I thought it would be nice for you to bring your gardening questions which we’ll discuss and answer over a cup of coffee. This way everybody gets to benefit from the advice given. Should we not yet be able to meet in person, we’ll simply take this session online to a Facebook Live coffee morning instead.

BIRD WALK/S

Our bird walks are back! In strict compliance with all health and safety precautions each Bird walk participant will have their temperature taken prior to the walk, be requested to keep a 1,5 to 2m distance from each other, and of course, wear a mask.

Saturday, 11 July 2020 – Lance Robinson
Saturday, 25 July 2020 – Andre Marx
Start time: 7h00 for 7h30 sharp.
Cost: R85.00 per person, this excludes breakfast, which will be for your account. We may only be able to do takeaways which can be eaten around a fire in the garden after the walk. Orders will be taken on your arrival to assist the kitchen with preparation.

Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or Ashley on [email protected] - Bookings cannot be made on our website – please use the details listed here. We have a maximum of 10 spaces available per bird walk.
Take a walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. The diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing some of the 166 bird species spotted here. A bird list is supplied.
Note: Binoculars are important and greatly enhance your enjoyment of this activity – please don’t forget as we do not have spare.
Good walking shoes and a hat are advised for the bird walk.

IN THE TEA GARDEN

The finger food we prepared for Father’s Day went down a treat and we have been asked to continue with it so people can enjoy it as a picnic in the garden. We will do so but, as soon as we are allowed, we will not be serving it in a horrible box. This will only be served if booked in advance.

Other items that can be ordered in advance are:

• Bread made with stoneground flour (R30.00 per loaf) and cakes made to order (price on request)
• Frozen lasagnes and moussaka - Perfect for this chilly weather, homemade lasagne frozen and packaged for you to heat and eat at home. Moussaka and Beef Lasagne R90 each. Spinach Lasagne R80 each. One large or two smaller servings.

COTTAGES

As the date for accommodation leisure travel guests has not yet been confirmed we will still be catering for business travellers only.

We are obliged to screen our guests on arrival and will try our best not to inconvenience too much.

I would like to assure all our guests that our staff have been properly trained and we are doing our very best to ensure all areas are sanitised and clean.

Unfortunately, until we have an opening date, all breakfasts will have to be served as a takeaway. These can be delivered to your cottage.

Remember our rooms offer working space, a good WIFI signal and heaters to keep you warm on chilly nights.

Please remember to complete our guest book to help us improve our service to you. We would also love you to leave us a rating and review on Google. You can find us under Random Harvest Country Cottages (link)

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Scolopia mundii - Red Pear (E) is a very hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, small or medium-sized tree which is rare in nature and even more rare in cultivation.

It is an excellent addition to a forest garden, and the abundance of fruit that it bears will attract many birds to the garden.

Plant in sun, semi-shade or shade in well-composted soil.

Mulch around the base to keep the roots cool.

Size: 3 to 10m

Streptocarpus formosus - Cape Primrose (E) has been the darling of indoor indigenous shade plants for forever!

This hardy, evergreen perennial looks beautiful planted alongside a shady pond or in containers.

Plant in very well-composted medium with good drainage in a shady to semi-shady position, where the soil is moist, rather than wet.

Size: 20 to 30cm

Euphorbia mauritanica - Golden Spurge (E) is a very hardy, evergreen, quick-growing, well-rounded shrub that is an excellent feature plant for rockeries and mixed succulent beds.

Particularly useful for difficult gardens which have low rainfall and harsh, cold conditions.

Size: up to 1.5m

Aloe parvibracteata is a hardy, evergreen, stemless Aloe that suckers freely.

Use in a grassland garden, plant en masse for a stunning display, or plant in a container or even in swampy areas where it thrives.

Plant mainly in full sun but it will tolerate a little shade during the day.

Size 20 to 40cm

Plectranthus hadiensis ‘Melmoth’ - Wild Purple Salvia is a hardy, evergreen, dramatic shrub that is equally attractive as a container or garden plant.

It attracts butterflies and tiny pollinating insects to the garden.

Plant in compost-rich soil in full sun or semi-shade. Size: up to 70cm

Petalidium oblongifolium - Bloubos (A) is a very hardy, evergreen, drought-resistant small shrub that is beautiful in a mixed border, planted in groups or in containers.

The flowers attract many pollinating insects to the garden with their copious nectar.

Plant in sun or half day shade in well-drained soil.

Size: 40 to 60cm

PLANTS ON SPECIAL

Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myersii’ - Foxtail Fern (E) is a hardy, evergreen, drought-resistant, scrambling, perennial, neat form plant that can be used as a focal point in the garden.

It makes a good container plant and is particularly beautiful growing gracefully over pond edges.

Grows well in light shade or semi-shade.

Size: 1m

Aloe barberae [=bainesii] - Tree Aloe (E) is the largest of all the Aloes, and is a surprisingly hardy, ideal form plant in the garden and makes a stunning container plant.

In fact, in smaller gardens it is best to limit its size by planting it in a container.

Advisable not to plant too close to walls as it develops a huge stem.

The flowers attract Sunbirds and insects, the latter in turn attracting insectivorous birds.

Size: up to 18m

Ruttya fruticosa - Jammy Mouth (E) is a fairly hardy, evergreen, beautifully rounded shrub that is great planted in a mixed border, as a beautiful screening or as a container plant.

The exceptionally attractive two-lipped tubular orange or yellow flowers have a shiny black throat and attract bees, birds and butterflies to the garden.

Plant in a sunny or semi-shade position in compost-rich soil.

Size: 1 to 2m

GARDENING TIP

In amongst all the problems we have been facing with the Corona virus we seem to have forgotten the other plague that is facing this world – the Polyphagous Shothole Borer (PSHB)

Not only is this a huge problem for all our trees but the poisons that are currently being widely used are really damaging for the biodiversity in the areas in which they are used.

I have been using the PSHB fungicide and even in the face of a huge pool of PSHB next door we are managing to control the borer in an environmentally friendly manner. I can say this with conviction as, in one of the Paperbarks I sprayed, the very next day a Cardinal Woodpecker started a nest. He completed the nest and successfully bred in the tree. The Woodpeckers also foraged for food in the trees I sprayed with no observable ill effects.

Unlike in town we have not lost any trees in 3 years.

It appears that once you spray the borers seem to avoid the tree for quite some time. Unfortunately, the lockdown stopped us in our observations, so I am unable to say just how long they will stay away. Once we are working full time again, I will continue with this research and let you know the outcome.

We will also be starting courses to train both you and your gardener on what to look for and how to spray the fungicide to the best effect.

We will also be starting a Facebook page for your convenience.

If you need help please call either Mike on 071-102-4730, Jonathan on 076-830-5242 or myself on 079-872-8975

ON THE FARM

It has been really cold these past few weeks and although I am shivering, I am really happy especially with the lovely 18mm of rain we had. I am hoping that as the weather pattern seems to have reverted this year that we won’t have to wait for rain until mid-November as we have had to do the past few years.

I love the low light at this time of year, especially in the early morning.

The sun catching the Fever tree (Acacia xanthophloea) is what greets me as I look out from my house each morning. Beautiful.

I had to finally say goodbye to the beautiful old Oak tree that died in the garden.

It was a sad day.

But it has opened up and changed the garden a lot.

It is surprising how little debris such a majestic tree left.

We are going to cure the wood and build a few items from it to keep reminding me of an old friend.

Not only did we have to contend with the Oak dying, but the centre of this huge old Belhambra toppled over.

Not that I even like the Belhambra which is a category 3 Alien but it serves a purpose by sucking up all the water from the cowshed which is why it has been left there.

It is unbelievable but this tree takes up about 600 litres of water mixed with manure each day.

Astounding how much water many of the alien species suck up each day.

My staff have been very busy and one of thing we have to do at this time of year is cut the grass on the verges of the road as I think the windy road to the nursery could be quite dangerous with the long grass obscuring your view.

So early, on a few cold mornings, they were out and about clearing the road – and a good job they did.

After the long lockdown it was time to mix the compost.

I love it when I see the compost smoking with each bucketful.

It means it is working well.

The birds also love to feast on the grubs and insects that are exposed with each turn.

It is amazing how many butterflies there are out at the moment. They are flitting around the Ribbon bushes, Wild Dagga, Scabiosa and Aloes.

We pictured an African Monarch, Meadow white and Dotted Border Butterfly on the Scabiosa. These are just a few among many.

The other plant to which the butterflies are drawn is Freylinia lanceolata (Honey Bells). Although this is a big shrub that can be quite untidy if not pruned regularly, the profuse flowers are beautiful and smell divine and the butterflies cannot resist them.

What was surprising was the number of butterflies flittering around the LM lawn just after we cut it. I am not sure why this was, but it is another reason to plant indigenous lawn, as I do know that the insects love the flowers of the grass.

Jeffrey got this lovely picture of a Painted Lady warming up on a rock before taking off for the day.

The Aloe flowers have been attracting Sunbirds by the dozens. Any time of the day you will find them very busily sipping nectar from the flowers. The Amethyst Sunbird in particular seem to love the Aloe flowers.

There haven’t been too many water birds at the dam this month but there are tons of smaller birds such as Wagtails, Bishops, Queleas and Go-away birds amongst others. The Papyrus have been frosted for the first time in 5 years and is looking quite sad.

Having said this, Jeff has managed to get a few good pictures on our daily visits to the dam. We have been seeing this very pale Grey Heron.

The Three-banded Plover are still about, and I am still hopeful that they will nest at the dam.

The Yellow-billed Duck have been visiting and we are regularly seeing the Moorhen and the Malachite Kingfisher.

The Thick-knees are starting to call at night. They are resident on the farm. You normally see them resting under the trees during the day.

   

I have also been hearing the Fiery-necked Nightjar regularly.

It would not be a newsletter if I didn’t have something to say about how much I love the Grassland and the Grasses.

A few of them are looking spectacular now. The Turpentine Grass is particularly beautiful with its purple stems. As is the CottonwooL grass with its red leaves and the low sun shining through them.

Why this cow, while standing knee-deep in grass, feels it needs to eat my trees – I don’t know. I guess the leaves are juicier at this time of year.

Some of the plants are looking amazing. I love this combination of the Mattress Everlasting (Helichrysum crispum) and the Wild Michelmas Daisy (Felicia erigeroides) in my mother plant beds. I thought it would give you some inspiration for a combination for your own garden.

The autumn colours of the leaves of the Forest Bushwillow (Combretum kraussi) are amazing.

This fiery colour in the crown add a new dimension of colour to the garden.

The rare and unusual Haemanthus deformis is also happily blooming in this cold.

It is wonderful just how many plants are blooming happily in the middle of winter.

Even though the days are still cold and short the birds are starting to call a lot more and a lot louder in the mornings – getting ready for spring. Nature is amazing.

I would like to reassure that we are doing all we can to sanitise and keep you safe when you visit Random Harvest.

People are really enjoying the open air and sitting around the fires in the garden. Why not take a drive and visit us to enjoy the garden as well?

We’re open from 8am to 4pm daily, including Sundays.

We had such a lovely review from one of our customers (Winifride Wilson) on Google. It sums up what we love our customers to go away with:

“Random harvest is very aware of covid 19 and taking care, I did not feel at all uncomfortable. Wonderful range of plants, bird feeding accessories,and much more. Do yourself a favor, get out of town and visit Random harvest. Wonderful place.”

In these trying times I try to concentrate on the beauty around me and what a wonderful world this truly is.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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