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Random Harvest Newsletter - December 2020

Posted On: Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

The rain has been wonderful. When I look out of my cottage into the garden and it is all misty and mystical, I just love it.

The dam is also looking wonderful with all the water that reached it via our rainwater harvesting furrows. Every time I see the water rushing into the dam I am so pleased with our system.

PLEASE NOTE OUR OPENING TIMES OVER THE HOLIDAYS

We are open 7 days a week from 8am to 4.30pm except for the following holidays.
16th December – Open
25th December – Closed
26th December – Closed
1st January - Closed

IN THE NURSERY

Christmas started mid-November for the birds with our ‘Christmas Tree for the Birds.’ They’ve been feasting on Christmas dinner, morning, noon and night, for a few weeks already. Don’t forget your camera when you visit us, and please tag us when you post your beautiful pics of our feathered friends on Facebook, Instagram and wherever else.

SPOT THE CREATURE

The Retail Nursery invites all children to take part in our annual “Spot the Creature” activity. Spot as many creatures hidden in the various niches in the nursery. This will teach the children about ecology and what you can see where. They can then collect their free Christmas Gift once done.

LUCKY DRAW FOR FOOD PARCEL DONATION

As part of our efforts to raise more funds for the food parcel drive, when you visit the nursery a R100.00 donation towards the food parcels enters you into a fantastic lucky draw. I am pleased to announce that our Lucky Draw competition winners for December are Merle Finch and Brigid Samson.

For every 100 tickets sold we will draw 2 winners of a R1000.00 voucher to be spent at Random Harvest in the nursery, cottages, or tea garden.

The need for food and other basic items is huge so if you are able to donate it would be sincerely appreciated.

THE BANK DETAILS FOR DONATIONS:
FNB account Random Harvest Nursery : Account number 51441129818 : Code 250741 : Current account

IN THE TEA GARDEN

SAFE SPACE: The Tea Garden provides a spacious and open area for relaxed eating in a space that enables one to maintain a safe social distance from others. Not only is it safe but I truly believe beneficial to one’s health to be out in the open air, able to soak in some sun and have nature still one’s soul.

YEAR-END EVENTS: I always think of this as the Silly Season – when we get into a frenzy to party, finish off work, find gifts, and host Year-end events.

At Random Harvest have a wonderful quiet and peaceful space where you can unwind and really chat to colleagues you haven’t had time to catch up properly with all year. The cost of venue hire is R100.00 per person. We offer a choice of menu’s:

Carvery with a choice of meats on a spit braai with roasted veg and a salad and a selection of tarts for dessert – R250.00 per person (Available from 11h30 to 16h00
Or
Italian meat and/or spinach lasagne and salad with a selection of tarts for dessert. – R180.00 per person
An Antipasto starter can be added to this menu at a further cost of R100.00 per person.

We have added Pork Pie to our menu. They are absolutely delicious. A customer remarked the best Pork Pie outside of the UK””. It is served with an apple, celery and pecan salad and sweet potato crisps.

After your meal remember to visit our quirky little shop which has a variety of gifts to help you get your Christmas shopping done

SPECIAL FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER

Cheese platter with a selection of hand-crafted local cheeses served with a variety of preserves and pickles and homemade bagels. This can be enjoyed either in the garden or at a table in the nursery or new boma

IN THE SHOP

The shop is crammed full of wonderful holiday season items to give as gifts or for some holiday gardening. From little gifts for your hosts if you’re visiting people, to thoughtful and environmentally sustainable Christmas gifts there are so many to choose from. Here is a preview of just some of the goodies, but come in and browse next time you are at Random Harvest:

Indigenous Christmas Trees – We have stunning Christmas trees in our shop this festive season. We have made Christmas decorations with indigenous seed pods and decorated small Wild Olive Trees. They are small enough to put on a table in a hallway, or on a patio. The best part of it is that once Christmas is over, you can either keep it a while longer as a container plant or plant it in the garden. (R170.00 each.)

• Reindeers – made from wood and just irresistible with their little red noses and scarves! (R95.00 each)
• Wooden mushrooms – these are always so popular. They look magical on a windowsill on a shelf or in amongst pot plants. (R195.00 each)
• Leather keyrings – now made for the avid gardener! Perfect tiny gifts if you’re travelling and are short of space. (R45.00 each)
• Christmas decorations - Beaded and wooden – make Christmas a sustainable affair this year by decorating your tree with these beautiful handmade decorations. (R32.50 each)
• Christmas cards – simple, elegant, and understated. (R15.00 each)
• Christmas themed bird feeders – Enjoy their beauty whilst the birds enjoy the bounty. (Various sizes to suit your garden size and pocket. From R65.00 each)


• Garden creatures – Add a bit of humour and a touch of magic to your garden. (From R38.50 each)

Book of the month: ‘The Cape Orchids’ by William Liltved and Steven Johnson 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.

What a wonderful Christmas gift it would make for someone who is plant mad.

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, 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.

Date: Wednesday 6th January 2019
Topic: Gardening Questions and Answers.
Bring along your questions and we will do our best to answer them. This should be interesting and a learning curve for all our us.

BIRD WALK/S

Saturday, 12 December – Lance Robinson
Saturday, 9 January – André Marx
Saturday, 13 February – Andre Marx.
Start 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

We start Bruce’s course on Saturday 23rd January and still have a few spaces available. It is a most worthwhile course that will change forever the way in which you look at and work in your garden.

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. Bruce will also teach you how to interpret natural landscapes for your own garden and create your own peaceful haven.

The course will be held on Saturday mornings from 9h00 to 12h00 starting on the23rd January 2021 and continue for 8 Saturday mornings.

Cost: R2500.00 for the full 8-day course plus you will need to purchase stationary as per a list supplied.

For bookings and 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.

COTTAGES

Instead of one cottage for December, we feature two – Rockfig and Bushwillow. These two gorgeous little hideaways can be combined by opening an interleading door, into a spacious family unit that sleeps four. Remember too, that if you are travelling with a little one, we have a camping cot that is available for babies and tiny toddlers.

Our Spa special for cottage guests is still running for the month of December - We are excited to have Epikaizo Beauty Parlour offering spa treatments to our cottage guests. 15% discount applies to manicures and pedicures booked when you stay for three nights or more.

IN THE GARDEN – Monthly Gardening Tips

Pruning: Keep the garden in shape by pruning overly energetic summer growth. We have had a lot of rain and the garden has responded by growing at the rate of knots! Trees that bolt straight shoots from the branches sometimes need these taken off, and thin out heavily fruiting branches if needed. Rain on top of the extra weight of fruit can break boughs, which, if left un-dealt with, can open the tree to disease and fungus.

If you’re lucky enough to have time for gardening during the holidays, consider using time in the garden to bond with loved ones. Whether it’s helping Gran to add some colour to a flower bed, or teaching a toddler the wonders of nature, spending time in the garden is a wonderful way to have quality time with family members. We put an article on our website some time ago about gardening with children – you may enjoy reading it again with the holidays around the corner. We also have articles on “How to build a Scarecrow”, “How to build a Beastie Box and ‘’Creating a Succulent Garden”, which are super activities for kids or other family members to do together.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Markhamia zanzibarica - Bellbean (E) is a fairly hardy, small, evergreen Bushveld tree for sun or semi-shade. It has compound, glossy, fresh green leaves and clusters of beautiful, bell-shaped, yellow and deep maroon flowers (Sept. to Feb). Another wonderful feature are the long, twisted pods (40cm) that turn dark brown.

Dais cotinifolia - Pompon Tree (E) is a celebration of pink at this time of year. A very hardy, deciduous, fast-growing, small to medium-sized tree for sun or semi-shade. It has slightly blue-green leaves and in spring, it has scattered pink leaves in the lush green crown which adds to its beauty. It begins flowering whilst still young. From Nov. to Feb. it bears masses of very showy, fragrant, pink, pompon-like flowers that attract a whole host of birds and insects. Ideal for small gardens and containers.

Cyperus albostriatus - The Forest Star Sedge (E) is a hardy, evergreen sedge that looks great planted alongside pools and ponds where it will add delicate texture. Use as a pretty indoor plant as well It has a tuft of basal leaves and a bare stem that carries a terminal umbrella of bright-green, grass-like “leaves” with a faint white stripe. These are actually bracts from which the flowers are borne. A spray of delicate green flowers that turn brown when mature, are borne from Jul to May. Used traditionally to make mats. The Forest Sedge is a shade-loving groundcover that can tolerate the dry shade under trees.

Cyperus alternifolius nana - Miniature Umbrella Sedge (E) is a hardy, evergreen, miniature, tufted sedge that is ideal for water edges, and wetland gardens. It has a green stem topped with a circle of flat, green bracts at the end of each stem. It is a good plant to include in grey-water filtering systems. The clusters of brown flowers stand out above the green bracts in summer. Prune regularly to keep it looking neat. This Cyperus is a fast spreader and the rhizomes will cover an area rapidly. Plant in sun or semi-shade in marshy or very well-irrigated soil.

Acacia luederitzii - Kalahari-sand acacia (E) is a very hardy, deciduous, quite slow-growing Acacia that can tolerate harsh conditions as it grows in desert and semi-desert areas. It develops a flat crown, typical of African Acacias, with age. It has fine, feathery, grey-green foliage.

The inflated, paired spines look like miniature buffalo horns. The creamy-white puffball flowers are borne in from Oct. to Feb. and attract a whole host of insects. The nutritional, elongated, purple-brown pods will split and persist on the tree another interesting feature. Plant in well-drained soil in sun. A perfect Acacia for smaller gardens.

Euphorbia lydenburgensis - Lydenburg-naboom (E) is a hardy, evergreen, much-branched spiny succulent shrub which develops a flat crown. It has 4-angled, thin, greenish-yellow branchlets with dark-brown spines running along the ridges. It bears small, bright yellow flowers, also along the ridges with the spines from Sept. to Nov. The flowers attract tiny pollinating insects. Plant in a succulent bed, rockery or container. It requires well-drained soil and placed in sun or very light dappled shade.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL THIS MONTH – LESS 15%

Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’ - Wild Garlic (E) is an ideal groundcover for difficult areas as it can thrive in very poor soils, although it is lush and flowers better in well-composted soil. Include it in the garden as a companion plant, particularly to deter aphids. The umbels of flowers are sweetly scented at night and make excellent cut flowers. It is a hardy, evergreen, tuft-forming, bulbous plant with strap-like, variegated grey and white leaves that are garlic-scented when bruised. When sitting outside, whack some of the leaves on your table or chair and this will deter flies and mosquitoes. The flowers are edible and look beautiful in salads. The leaves and bulb can be used as a garlic substitute in cooking. Used medicinally.

Rotheca [=Clerodendrum] myricoides - Blue Cat’s Whiskers (E) is a beautiful shrub for small gardens and containers. It is a fairly hardy, evergreen, very decorative, medium-sized shrub with variable, fairly large, slightly serrated leaves. In spring and summer, it has many spikes of purple flowers which attract the beautiful Carpenter Bees. The edible fruit attracts birds to the garden. Should be pruned regularly to encourage it to bush out and keep producing flowers. Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-composted soil.

ZANTEDESCHIA MIXED COLOURS I bought these Arum lilies as mixed colours before they had flowered, so it is a lucky packet what colour you get! They are very hardy, deciduous plants, with arrow-shaped leaves that are often spotted. It has one distinctive, cone-shaped petal that can be bright yellow, orange, pink or maroon. It has a central column which carries the tiny flowers and the yellow pollen. The flowers are borne from Oct. to Apr. and make a beautiful, dainty cut flower. Birds relish the dense mass of small, fleshy fruits. Porcupine and pigs eat the underground tubers. The plant is used for medicinal and culinary purposes and the flowers are excellent cut flowers. This popular garden plant looks great in a cottage garden, in and around a pond or planted en masse under trees.

Cussonia sphaerocephala - Natal Forest Cabbage Tree (E) - This very decorative tree is suitable for large, sheltered, shady gardens and makes a good container plant. Do not plant Cussonia near walls, pools, pipes or paving as they have an aggressive root system. It is a tall, fast-growing, evergreen, fairly hardy tree, which is sparsely branched, with each branch bearing its own small spherical crown of leaves. The large, shiny, leathery, attractive leaves are red when they first appear, darken to bronze and then to dark green. The greenish flowers appear between Mar. and Jun. and are densely packed on thick spikes forming compact umbels. The masses of purplish-black fruit that follow are small and fleshy and attract birds to the garden.

ON THE FARM

This month this section is only going to be about the grassland and the birds which have been giving us tremendous pleasure and joy.

One of the most exciting things is that a pair of Paradise Flycatchers decided to make their beautiful, tiny nest in the White Stinkwood (Celtis Africana) just outside my Moms kitchen window – giving us a birds eye view of their nest and their activities, feeding the babies, cleaning out the nest and just generally being very good and protective parents.

The Yellow Canary was feasting on the bounty of fruit offered by the Ficus sur (Broom cluster fig). Every bird in the neighborhood arrives to feast.

Remember this is a huge tree with aggressive roots but for the smaller garden plant it into a big pot and enjoy the wildlife.

The Lapwings have babies as well. The Wattled Lapwing dive bomb the golf cart and Abby any time we get even close to where their babies are hiding.

What amazes me is just how quickly the Lapwing babies grow up they almost seem to double in size each day. They are so cryptic in amongst the grasses that it is difficult to get a good picture of them.

The Blacksmith Lapwing had babies as well and they go from tiny chicks to this cheeky teenager strutting down the road in the space of 10 days.

The parents have hijacked the dam and won’t allow anyone else on the edge.

The Three Banded Plover has his chance to forage in the mud when the Blacksmith Lapwings are not there. As soon as they come back the first order of things to do is to chase anyone who has the temerity to come into their space.

We have quite a few pairs of Thick Knees that are resident on the farm, but we rarely see the babies as they are nocturnal.

This year we were lucky, and Jeff got this lovely picture of the baby – exciting!

The Egyptian geese have six babies. They are so cute and are getting brave and not hiding immediately they see us.

I have one of my staff working down near the dam to protect all the babies in the grassland. It is amazing just how quickly the birds get the picture that he is trying to protect them, and they trust him and forage closely around him.

I realise this is not strictly correct but there are so many crows in the area that are huge predators of baby birds. The numbers have drastically changed the balance of nature in the area and that is the reason I try and protect them.

The Hamerkop babies have left the nest. The whole family is getting quite cheeky and spend their time fishing in the water plant ponds and just sitting on the edge relaxing in the sun.

The Fiscal Flycatcher babies have also left the nest.

The Diederik Cuckoo have been calling all over the farm. They are so cryptic we seldom see them but just hear their melodious call.

Jeff and I have been trying for years to get some pictures of them. So, imagine our excitement when we managed to get quite close to a Diederik singing his head off. He is beautiful with his glossy green feathers shining in the sunlight. Jeff reckons this is his Christmas present.

After the rain the grassland is definitely looking like a magical, flower filled kingdom. Jeff and I are so in love with the grassland and are lucky enough to be able to go there every day to just enjoy the daily changes and interactions of the wildlife.

The sweet scent of the Sweethorn (Acacia karroo) after the rain was drifting over the grassland and seeing the mushrooms just adds another touch of magic.

I spent a wonderful 71st birthday with my staff and family, the people I love most in the world. Just to add joy to my day my driver found a hedgehog wandering along the road and he brought it home so we could release it into a safe space and a Groundscraper Thrush perched on my Golf cart to enjoy the day.

I thought I would end by sharing a few pictures of beautiful indigenous plants.

I wish you all joy and peace during the holiday season and hope to see you at Random Harvest.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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