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Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2020

Posted On: Thursday, October 1, 2020

Dear Indigenous enthusiast,

Spring has truly arrived with a blaze of colour from the Clivias. It is always such a beautiful time of year with everything sprouting, the birds singing and, in particular, the dawn chorus which wakes me each morning.

The Clivias have been exceptional this year. We hosted our first low key wedding where the bride was thrilled to be able to say her vows in front of one of the Clivia beds.

We have been exceptionally busy in the nursery and I would like to thank all my customers that have supported us. We feel truly blessed.

IN THE NURSERY

It is the time of year to plant seeds, do cuttings and fill and plant thousands of bags for our new season’s plants. We are a hive of activity, with tractors up and down taking bags to the lines and placing them.

Others are taking out plants to fill all our orders and delivering plants to the retail display area. It is always an exciting time of year with the promise of new plants growing and blooming. I am lucky as I am able to indulge in my passion for plants and make a living doing it.

In my wisdom, I decided we needed to refurbish our seed house which was getting rusty. This when it is our busiest time of year planting seeds. Sometimes I think I just love stress as I regularly bite off more than I can chew.

The structure of our new Boma is finished. The ceiling of Chondropetalum (Cape Reed) is absolutely beautiful. Our next big job there is to lay the floor and then it will be ready for our customers to use. It will be a pleasant place to sit and watch the rain (hopefully it comes soon).

FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS

We have managed to distribute another 100 Food Parcels and 200 “Meal in a Bag” this month.

You have been amazingly generous with your donations toward the food parcel drive. but the need is still great out there. If I could be so cheeky as to ask if there is any chance of further donations, I and the recipients,would be eternally grateful.

Random Harvest is paying for the ‘Meal in a Bag’ and last month we donated another R5000.00 towards the food parcels. The ‘Meal in a bag’ donation went to feed the homeless in Krugersdorp.

The banking details for donations are
Random Harvest nursery
FNB Account No. 51441129818
Cheque account
Code 250741

EVENTS

BIRD WALK/S

In strict compliance with all health and safety precautions i.e. Temperature taken and keeping your social distance and wear a mask.

Saturday, 24th October 2020 with Andre Marx

Saturday 21st November 2020 with Lance Robinson

Time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp

Cost: 175.00 per person, this includes a scrumptious breakfast buffet
Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul or David on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected] - Bookings cannot be made on our website – please use the details listed here. We have a maximum of 20 spaces available per bird walk.
Take a walk through the gardens and grassland and see how beautiful the grassland is as it has started blooming.

Note: Don’t forget your binoculars, comfortable walking shoes and a hat

COFFEE MORNINGS

Remember that our coffee mornings are free of charge – we just ask that you support the nursery and / or tea garden.

Date: Wednesday, 7th October 2020
Time: 10h30-12h00
Topic: How to create a security hedge with hardy, thorny shrubs - not just species to use but spacing and positioning.

Date: Wednesday, 4th November 2020
Time: 10h30-12h00
Topic: Gardening for birds and feeding birds.

PRACTICAL GARDENER TRAINING

Treat your valued gardener to a one-day practical gardener training course

LAST 2 DATES FOR 2020 – Friday 16th October or Friday 20th November
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30
COST: R720.00 per person

This includes a set of notes for both the gardener and employer, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival, breakfast and lunch and a certificate.

TO BOOK or for more info contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or [email protected]

TEA GARDEN

If you have a birthday or special occasion coming up why not think of celebrating with family and friends with a delicious High Tea in the garden at Random Harvest.

The wedding we hosted ordered a high tea and they loved it.

Booking is essential please contact Paul or David on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]

Homemade butter: Because of the lockdown we made quite a lot of butter, we normally don’t have enough cream to make enough butter to sell. We do have limited quantities of butter to sell at the moment @ R90.00 per 500gr.

Frozen Meals: Please remember we now have frozen meals available for you to take home. A newer product is the frozen Moussaka which our customers seem to enjoy. If you would like to try it we have added it to our menu in the tea garden. You can then decide if you would like to take a few home with you.

Please remember we only use the best quality ingredients we can find and there are no chemical additives, our whole menu is made up of food and cakes all freshly made in our kitchen.

COTTAGES

The cottages we have refurbished, Wild Olive and Sweet Thorn are now ready and looking beautiful. I am sure the improvements will add to your enjoyment of the accommodation and the farm.

Remember when staying over to take time to take gentle walks around the farm and do a bit of bird watching and enjoy the energy of the beautiful indigenous plants.

You can book your stay online at https://book.nightsbridge.com/15178 (Hyperlink please)

IN THE SHOP

We are so privileged to be able to offer you, probably one of the best botanical books I have ever seen and I am very proud to add it to my collection, ‘The Cape Orchids’ by William Liltved and Steven Johnson. This magnificent publication is the culmination of a lifetime’s work of observing wild orchids of the Cape Floristic Region in their natural habitat.

Thanks to William we are able to offer you this magnificent collection at a very special reduced price for Random Harvest customers of R2100.00 per set.

Anyone who loves plants and appreciates the diversity of our wonderful natural world will be proud to own one of these copies of this limited edition.

We have some interesting new goodies in the shop from unusual wooden bird feeders, small hand-crafted cards to new stock of the beautiful mugs with bird motifs.

We also have Bambanani beaded jewellery created by hand from community development projects. Bambanani is the siSwati word that means to hold or support one another (for a better future) Your Purchase Helps empower volunteer community health care providers with skills and sustainable income through handicraft sales. Each product is made primarily from recycled paper, plastic, fabric, and seeds.

Garden tip of the month

Removing weeds by hand is always best as you can get a feel for the roots. Pulling shallow-rooted weeds is easy as they usually come right up. Stronger and deeper roots may require additional tools. Using chemical weed killers is also an option when it comes to weed removal but using hand and tools offers a better strategy, as chemicals can be hazardous to the environment and to pets. If there is a very large area that is covered in weeds, then chemical removal is understandable.

If the weeds have not seeded you can drop them back into the bed as green manure. If you drop weeds with seeds you compound the problem and more weeds will grow.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

 

Cussonia spicata - Cabbage Tree (E) makes a lovely form plant, whether planted
as a container plant or as a garden subject, but do not plant close to walls as it has aggressive, fleshy, swollen roots. This mostly evergreen, decorative tree has attractive corky bark and the leaves are crowded at the tips of the branches. Birds are attracted by the fruit and it is the host plant to Charaxes butterflies and Emperor Moths. Plant in shade, semi-shade or sun.

Ficus ingens - Red-leaved Rock Fig (E) is a hardy, deciduous, plant that makes a beautiful specimen tree in warmer areas with dense shade for those hot summer days. In colder areas plant in amongst rocks where their gnarled and twisted stems and roots make for an ideal focal point. Plant in sun or semi-shade. In their first flush in spring the leaves are bright, glossy red, hence the common name. A must for a wildlife garden, as Birds feast on the sweet and sticky figs as do a whole host of other wildlife. Various butterflies use it as a host plant. The young leaves and figs make good fodder. Do not plant figs near walls, pools, pipes or paving as they have an aggressive root system.

Brachylaena discolor - Coastal silver-oak (E) is a fast growing, evergreen, beautiful, small, silvery tree for smaller gardens, but the crown needs to be pruned to encourage it to bush out. With regular pruning it can be kept to any size you want and makes a great windbreak and screen. Plants need to be protected from frost in the first year, as they are a little tender to frost when young. Plant in full sun or semi-shade.

Albuca shawii - Small Yellow Albuca (E) is a beautiful addition to a rockery, short grassland garden or meadow of delicate, bulbous plants. They prefer full sun but can take light semi-shade. Plant in well-drained, loamy soil and do not over-water. If planting in a grassland, make sure that they are not swamped by too many tall grasses.

Jasminum multipartitum - Starry Wild Jasmine (E) is a very hardy, evergreen, fast-growing creeper or scrambler with small, glossy, dark-green foliage. The fragrant, white (with deep pink undersides), star-shaped flowers are used in pot-pourri. It bears shiny, edible black berries that attract birds to the garden.

Ehretia rigida - Puzzle Bush (E) is a very hardy, deciduous, drought-resistant, attractive shrub or small tree. Its shape is formed by its tangled, gracefully downwards- arching branchlets, which give this plant its common name, ‘Puzzle bush’. The flowers attract many pollinating insects and the edible orange berries are a favourite with fruit-eating birds. It has many traditional uses. Use in an informal hedge, as a security barrier, as a feature or form plant and is an important ecological element of bush clumps.

Curio [=Senecio] serpens – Blue Chalksticks (E) Makes a good container plant and is a wonderful, hardy plant to use for colour and textural contrast in most parts of the garden. Fleshy blue-grey, cylindrical, long, finger-like leaves are held pointing upwards, and are spirally arranged around the stems. Suitable for sun or semi-shade.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL

Cotyledon orbiculata var. flanaganii - Pig’s Ear (E) is a hardy, versatile plant that looks great in containers, in pockets in a rock garden or planted en masse. Also useful for planting in retaining walls and on embankments. This hardy, evergreen, drought-resistant, stemless succulent groundcover has finger-like leaves that are edged with red. The umbels of pendulous, apricot-coloured flowers attract insects and Sunbirds to the garden.

Gardenia thunbergia - Forest Gardenia (E); is a decorative, evergreen shrub or small tree with silvery bark, sculptural branching patterns, glossy green leaves and magnificent, large, sweetly scented, white flowers. The large knobbly seeds are also very decorative and persist on the plant.

Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Grey’ - Pig’s Ear (E); is ideal for winter colour in a dry garden, as it is a very hardy, evergreen, drought-resistant, succulent shrublet. Smooth, round, grey-green leaves edged with red add texture and bold colour to the garden, whilst long-stalked umbels of pendulous, orange-red flowers attract birds, bees and other insects. It looks great planted in pockets of well-drained soil in a rock garden.

Searsia [=Rhus] leptodictya - Mountain Karree (E) is a very hardy, evergreen, beautiful, graceful tree ideal for a small garden and can also be used as a small avenue tree. The slightly-weeping crown of bright-green trifoliate leaves is particularly attractive. Bunches of reddish-brown, edible fruits attract birds to the garden.

ON THE FARM

Our month started with burning the grassland. This is vital for the regenerating of the grassland and health of the ecosystem we are trying to create at Random Harvest.

We have to be extra careful that the fire does not jump into the bales we cut every year to make our compost. If that catches on fire there is no hope of controlling it, it will just have to burn out.

The Black-headed Heron and Cattle egrets love the fire as it flushes out the insects and they get an easy meal.

It is amazing how quickly the veld starts to green up again. Within a week there was a film of green and believe it or not some wildflowers also popped up.

Our first wildflower to pop up was, what I think is, Gazania krebsiana as there are no leaves yet I am not sure.

Of course, the veld is full of Hypoxis hemerocallidea (African Potato) quite a few of them are in flower with many more on the way.

And then, we were lucky enough to get 3mm of rain. It dampened the dust and greened up the veld even more.

Now Jeffrey is bottoms up in the grassland looking for wildflowers to photograph.

There Ledebouria species are blooming, like this L. revoluta and the wonderful L. ovatifolia that hugs the ground like a spotted star. This is to prevent other plants impinging on its space.

There are many different species of wildflower popping up. Soon we are going to have our wonderful wildflower meadow that I love so much.

The Acacia robusta (Splendid Thorn) are the first trees to bloom in spring. They are a truly splendid sight. The wonderful scent of the flowers wafting over the grassland add tremendously to the enjoyment this space.

The Swallows and Swifts are back, a true sign of spring. I am now waiting to start hearing the cheerful calls of the Paradise Flycatchers which should be back by the middle of the month, I can’t wait.

We have had a Pied Kingfisher at the dam, and I was lucky enough to arrive just as she dived to catch a fish.

The Blacksmith Lapwings have babies at the dam. What I find amazing is that you cannot get the whole chick in focus when taking a picture. I think this is because of the, almost, woolly feathers which break up the outline and hopefully fool predators.

The White-breasted Cormorant, which we rarely see, has been regularly seen fishing in the dam. I am always fascinated to see him swimming along with only his head and neck out of the water.

The Thick-billed Weaver has started weaving his nest at the dam in the garden. Their nest building is intricate, neat and beautiful.

I was interested to see this Green Hoopoe sipping nectar from an Aloe. Normally I only see them foraging under the bark of trees for insects. Goes to show how important the provision of nectar-bearing flowers in the garden is for the birds.

The Egyptian Geese and their solitary baby have been spending a lot of time on the grassland. I think it is to eat the new, juicy grass shoots as they are primarily grazers.

Ashley and Ronald, who live on the farm, have been taking walks down to the dam and grassland in the late afternoon and early mornings. They have managed to get some brilliant photos.

Ashley took this beautiful picture of the dam in the early morning. It is a reminder of just how magnificent this planet is.

Ronald took this picture of a Hare at dusk. It makes you wonder what goes on in the grassland after dark that we are not privy to.

Jeff and I found this place where the hares seem to congregate. This must be at night as we do not see them that often in the daylight.

There are a lot more insects buzzing around. They drive me crazy as they are so difficult to identify. I will share the pictures without sharing the identity (frustrating).

This bee-like insect was feasting on the pollen of Cotula sericea.

Ronald took a picture of this gorgeous Victoria Emerald moth which is a lichen-mimicking moth. Can you imagine if he had landed on the bark of a tree, he would be perfectly camouflaged, and we wouldn’t have seen him.

This garden locust was hugging an Aloe seed. I wonder if it was ready to munch the seeds.

The Garden Inspector butterflies are becoming more active although they are still in their winter colours.

I thought I would just share a few pictures of spring flowering trees that are flowering and cheering up the nursery.

Erythrina latissima (Broad-leaved Coral Tree) with its nectar rich beautiful scarlet flowers and the unusual pink flowering form of Erythrina Lysistemon (Coral tree)

The Kigelia africana (Sausage Tree) are also flowering with their long trusses of huge dark maroon flowers. It is amazing how many natural medicinal products are made from the huge sausage-like pods and their seeds.

I would like to remind you to be very vigilant and to check your trees for the Polyphagus Shot-hole borer (PSHB) that may be attacking them. Look out for the tell-tale signs of gum, meal or sugar strings which would indicate an attack as they become more active now.

Please could I also plead with you not to use the very poisonous products out there which devastate the ecosystem of trees and your garden. PSHB fungicide is registered for this plague and is environmentally friendly. If you need help to stem this devastating tide, please call either Mike on 082 721 2478 or myself on 079 872 8975.

We need to protect all the intricacies of life that make up this wonderful planet that we live on.

I hope you get to marvel every day at the web of life and beauty that surrounds you. It certainly fills my life and makes me deeply grateful to be living on the beautiful farm

Sincerely
Linda

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