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Random Harvest Newsletter - November 2020

Posted On: Sunday, November 1, 2020

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Happiness is that the Paradise Flycatchers are back and flitting around the garden. They have such a happy and cheerful call I challenge anyone to listen to this call and feel sad or down – impossible.

I am happy summer is here and everything is shooting and looking amazingly green. It always feels like a rebirth and I look toward life with a positive attitude with lots of good things to come.

This has been a really weird year – we have gone from time passing slowly during lock-down and now passing so quickly that we are nearly at Christmas and the year is almost over.

IN THE NURSERY

The retail nursery is a hive of activity this month – and it’s as if the resident and visiting creatures know Christmas with all its bounty is around the corner.

Our Christmas tree for the birds will be ready by mid-November…and already I have the feeling that the birds are egging us on to get cracking with this.

Bring the little ones to our annual Spot the creature in the tree. We start on Saturday the 5th of December and end on Sunday the 10th of January. When kids have marked off all the hidden creatures, they can collect their little Christmas gift – something that delights each year.

Our new boma, which we have decided to name ‘Fever Tree Boma’ is almost ready. I built it to keep our customers dry when it rains but there has been another benefit - it is a wonderfully cool place to sit out of the heat of the day. 

Succulent pots are now available and make gorgeous teachers’ gifts, Christmas gifts or worthwhile pocket money spends. Collect the whole range!

IN THE TEA GARDEN

Celebrate your business’s end of year with a High tea or buffet breakfast in our beautiful Nursery. Contact us on [email protected] or [email protected] for more information and for a quote. Booking is essential.

November is all things Mulberry in the tea garden. Mulberry cordial, Mulberry tart and Mulberry fudge are made from farm fresh mulberries and we can all but keep up with the demand for them at this time of the year.

IN THE SHOP

I’m sure the best Christmas presents for garden enthusiasts can all be found here in our little shop. We have great gifts to choose from, whether they are for teacher’s thank you gifts, main Christmas presents or little stocking fillers.

Here are a few to inspire you.

• Book of the month: Pooley's Trees of Eastern South Africa - A Complete Guide, by Richard Boon. (R290.00) This is a compact guide describing all the larger woody plants of the Eastern Region of South Africa. Due to its unique and comprehensive nature, the book may also be used as far north as Zambia.
• Homemade jams (R75 each) – beyond delicious! In stock: Plum, Mulberry, Apricot and Marmalade.
• “Luv Bugs” (R270 for 100g) - tasty larvae for garden birds.
• Christmas bird feeders – various sizes and prices made by local craftsmen for Random Harvest.
• Nutty putty (R130) – it’s like super-crunchy Peanut butter for birds – just without any preservatives or added sugar.

Our Panaf range of garden treatment products is highly effective in keeping the garden healthy and encouraging it to restore to the natural balance with minimal interference from chemicals. These are available in our shop, in 200ml bottles that get further diluted according to instructions on the bottle. Here is a brief description of what the various products are and what they do:

PANAF 1 - PHYTOPATHOGEN CONTROL (R215). A specially formulated product for the control of various phytopathogens. e.g. Nematodes and aphids

PANAF 2 - PLANT NUTRIENTS (R140). A plant nutrient of natural nitrogen, phosphate and potassium together with a host of micro- nutrients, minerals and lipids. It is safe and non-toxic.

PANAF 3 - PLANT DEFENCE MERCHANISM (R172). Supports plant defence mechanisms in respect of heat, drought and cold resistance and other abiotic stresses. Because the formula is comprised of only natural ingredients, it is not toxic.

PANAF 6 – FUNGICIDAL (R315). A fungicidal product to treat a variety of fungal infections.

PSHB – For the control of the fungus the PSHB Beetle introduces to the tree to feed itself and its offspring. By killing the fungus you control the beetle and save the trees.

EVENTS

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, your questions on the topic, and a friend

Date: Wednesday, 4 November 2020
Topic: Gardening for birds, feeding birds and Christmas flower arranging with indigenous plants.
Linda will offer some inspiration on what to plant to attract birds and plants to use to feed them. Jonathan will follow with a demonstration of some ideas on indigenous flower arrangements for the festive season.

Date: Wednesday, 2nd December 2020
Topic: Grassland Wonderland
Walk with us in the Random Harvest Grassland and discover what’s flowering this season. There is always so much to see. We’ll talk about the interesting interactions between creatures and the plants here, ways in which one can re-create grasslands in the garden and most importantly, just appreciate the beauty of this very special space.

For this coffee morning, it is important that you wear sunscreen and bring a hat. We will have water stations and places to sit and relax along the way. For the not so mobile we will take you along in the golf cart.

BIRD WALKS

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

Saturday, 21 November – Lance Robinson

Saturday, 12 December - Andre Marx

Starting 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.

*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.

INDIGENOUS GARDEN DESIGN COURSE BY BRUCE STEAD

After we had to cancel this course due to lockdown, we thought it would be best if we started towards the end of January rather than do a few weeks now and then break for Christmas.

This promises to be an extremely interesting and useful course which will start from the absolute basics and lead you through to creating a garden which is beautiful and will accommodate the needs of wildlife. He will also teach you how to interpret natural landscapes for your own garden. And create your own peaceful haven.

These will be held on Saturday mornings from 9h00 to 12h00.
Cost: R2500.00 for the full 8-day course plus you will need to purchase stationary as per a list supplies.

For further information: Contact David on 082-553-0598 or email [email protected]

Remember we have Bed and Breakfast accommodation for people who stay far away.

PRACTICAL GARDENER TRAINING

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

LAST DATE FOR 2020 – 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]

COTTAGES

For the month of November, if you book a midweek stay (Sunday to Thursday) for more than 2 nights in one of our cottages, your stay will include a complimentary bird walk with Jeff and guided tour of the nursery and the farm. We have accommodation that is family friendly.

We are excited to have Epikaizo Beauty Parlor offering spa treatments to our cottage guests. 15% discount applies to manicures and pedicures booked when you stay for three nights or more.

Our Cottage of the month is Lavender Tree. Tucked away at the top of the farm, it is spacious, light and has a lovely patio to enjoy early morning coffee or sundowners. This cottage can sleep three people, as it has a day-bad in the open-plan lounge area.

IN THE GARDEN – monthly gardening tips

Enhance your soil with vermicast compost (available at Random Harvest)
Studies show that amending soil with vermicast (earthworm-made compost) causes seeds to germinate more quickly, enhances rate of seedling growth, increases root numbers and biomass, improves root stress tolerance, leads to earlier flowering of plants, and increases plant yields. It is full of microbes that are essential in making nutrients in the soil accessible to plants that grow in it.

Plant insect attracting plants for the birds in your garden. This time of year sees parent birds frantically trying to feed their babies a nutritious diet, and insects form an essential part of this for most bird species.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Argyrolobium tomentosum Velvety Yellow Bush Pea (E) is a hardy, evergreen, scrambling or upright shrub with bright, yellow, pea-like flowers that turn orange or red as they age. It attracts insects and birds to the garden, and can be used as a screen or a small bushy shrub in a mixed border or allow to scramble up trees where its bright-yellow flowers will brighten up a shady bed. It is used extensively as a medicinal plant. Size: 0.6 to 2m

Setaria sphacelata var. sericea Golden Bristle Grass (E) is a hardy, evergreen, beautiful, neatly tufted grass. It bears dense, golden inflorescences of hairy flowers from Oct. to May that look like miniature bulrushes. Although tall, it is a neat and narrow grass that does not go wild. It attracts birds to the garden and is the host plant of various butterfly species. It makes a lovely form plant and can be planted in a grassland garden, as a backdrop to a colourful bed or mass-plant for a beautiful effect. Needs regular watering. Size: 70cm to 1.2m

Nerine laticoma Vlei Lily (E) - From Jan. to Mar. each very hardy, deciduous bulb sends up a long, flowering stem that has a rounded head of absolutely beautiful pink flowers that attract pollinating insects. There is also a rare, white-flowered form. It makes a wonderful show in the garden when planted in groups. It is also a beautiful plant for rockeries or containers, but they do require deep containers that are well-drained. Size: 30 to 35cm

Wahlenbergia rivularis Bell Flower (E) bears masses of white, bell-shaped flowers in summer that gently nod and dance in the slightest breeze. The flowers attract insects to the garden. This beautiful plant looks great planted in amongst grasses in a grassland garden, planted as a border, along the edge of a pond and also makes a lovely addition to a cottage garden. Size: 30 to 40cm

Cordia caffra Septee-tree (E) a decorative, sculptural, deciduous, small to medium-sized (rarely large) tree with mottled and flaky bark, drooping, glossy leaves that wave in the slightest breeze and masses of orange fruits that attract birds to the garden. Size: 2 to 12m

Catophractes alexandri - Trumpet Thorn (E) can be planted in a succulent garden, on banks, in containers or in small groups for a stunning display. It is a hardy, semi-deciduous, much-branched succulent shrub, or small tree with long slender spines. The small, pale grey leaves give the plant a silvery look, and it bears beautiful large, white, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers. The empty, woody seed pods click together in the slightest breeze adding sound to the beauty of this plant. Size: up to 3m

Chironia laxa - Cape Centaury (E) is a hardy, evergreen, many-branched, low-growing, rounded shrublet that bears an abundance of satiny, bright pink flowers with centrally massed, yellow stamens from Nov. to Mar. The ecology is interesting as it is ‘buzz pollinated’ by Carpenter bees (see www.rhn.co.za for details on buzz pollination). It looks beautiful planted in a sunny border in well-composted soil. When planted together with one of the Helichrysum species with their grey leaves, they make an amazing show. Size: up to 40 cm

PLANTS ON SPECIAL THIS MONTH – LESS 15%

Sclerochiton odoratissimus - White Lips (E) is a sight to behold when in flower, especially with all the pollinating insects that visit the flowers. It bears masses of wonderfully fragrant, pretty white flowers that are streaked with red or purple lines. Trim it into an attractive formal hedge with small, dark green leaves, use in a mixed shrubbery or plant in a container. Size: .75 to 1.5m

Bauhinia tomentosa - Yellow Bauhinia (E) looks good planted in a mixed shrubbery or as an informal hedge or in a container. Throughout summer it bears masses of lemon-yellow, bell-like flowers with a purple blotch at the base of one petal. This hardy, deciduous, fast-growing, drought-resistant, scandent shrub is a wonderful addition to a wildlife garden. Size: 2 to 4m

Barleria rotundifolia – Spiny Yellow Barleria (E) is a hardy, evergreen rambling shrub that has a rounded shape. The many spines make it an effective barrier plant for a security hedge, while the yellow tubular flowers (December to March) and the small, shiny bright green leaves give it a highly decorative appeal. Plant in clumps in a shady flower bed under trees or in a sunny rockery. Size up to 1m

ON THE FARM

This has been a mixed month on the farm from lots of fun and joy to quite a few problems.

Our animal feed store went up in flames which was a real mess. I now have to build it again. Unfortunately, we had to knock it down as the building was compromised.

This is no problem as I thrive on projects – another little thing to keep me interested and engaged.

The other problem we had was that the huge Euphorbia ingens in the garden fell over. I was in the dogbox with our customers as I left it to lie. I did this specifically for it to dry out a bit as it is, in fact, a huge succulent.

When it was dry enough to handle, I cut off the branches which I have planted – I am sure they will grow. Then when the TLB was here he picked up the huge stem and I planted it again. Hopefully, it thrives in its new place.

We also had to line our reservoir which had started leaking. My nephew, Robert, from Water Brothers did this for me. I just love the EPDM liner he installs as it has a long life and is tough. I have had my share of problems using other systems. This has now become the only pond liner I will use.

This is a job that will not have to be done again for the next at least the next 20 Years.

As most of you know the huge old oak tree in the garden died. It has now gone off to be processed and will be coming back to us as beautiful furniture for our new boma. My old friend will still be around to make me happy.

A big thing lockdown has taught me is how to recycle and reuse more efficiently. Bowa laid paving of all our pieces of rubble and what a marvellous job he did. Not only have we saved money by using what we have but also saved on having to transport it away for recycling. A win, win situation.

Now I can talk about all the other exciting thing that happen at Random Harvest.

One of the most exciting is the arrival in the garden of the Orange-breasted Bushshrike. He normally only visits about once every 10 years. It’s really difficult to photograph but Ronald managed this one just to prove he was actually here. He has a beautiful call and we are really privileged.

The birds have been busy, and we are seeing the Bar-throated Apalis out in the open. They normally keep to the denser areas of the trees although at breeding time this is a different story.

Some birds already have babies – like the Moorhen with tiny replicas of themselves.

They are really dedicated parents of their tiny helpless chicks.

Jeff and I have spent many happy moments just sitting and watching them.

Just a few weeks ago I showed you pictures of the fragile tiny Blacksmith lapwing babies. These have already grown up into handsome juveniles who are well able to look after themselves.

The Pin-tailed Whydah has developed his breeding colours and long tail. He is very busy at the dam trying to keep everyone away. For such a tiny bird he has huge ‘attitude’.

It is always exciting to see a Kingfisher at the dam. This Pied Kingfisher has been a regular visitor again this month.

We often hear the Swainsons Spur-fowl but seldom see them. Jeff came to work early one morning and managed to, at last, get a picture I can share with you.

Ronald got a picture of the White-bellied Sunbird in its nest. If you look carefully you can just see the tip of his beak peeping out.

I was so grateful for the couple of showers of rain we had. The grassland responded with an abundance of flowers. I am going to share a few pictures with you.

One of the exciting plants is what, I am almost sure, is the rare little Garuleum wooddii. It has sticky leaves which when crushed have a strong but really pleasant scent.

The Graderia subintegra with their beautiful pink tubular flowers have been popping up all over.

The Kouhoutia amatymbica with their heads of small creamy-white flowers open up after every shower of rain no matter how little it is.

The rabbits have been feasting on the Vernonia oligacephala. They seem to be coping with the natural pruning and are starting to flower. Once in flower they are irresistible to butterflies.

We haven’t seen a snake for a while, so I was thrilled to see this Red-lipped Herald. He was picked up by the TLB when we were moving some rocks. Fortunately, he was not harmed.

Ronald took this beautiful picture of a frog on a waterlily leaf. It is so great to see lots of creatures moving around again.

The plants in the nursery are also looking amazing. The Kigelia africana (Sausage Tree) are in full bloom with their huge, deep maroon flowers.

The Euryops pectinatus (Golden Daisy Bush) with their bright yellow blooms are so covered in flowers you can almost not see any leaves.

The Vygies with their glistening flowers are also looking amazing.

From my paradise of birds, beasts, flowers and insects I wish you a happy summer planting some of our beautiful indigenous plants and hope to see you soon.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

For directions please go to our website www.randomharvest.co.za : or call 082-553-0598

Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Sundays

Cottages 072-562-3396 :  Nursery 082-553-0598

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