Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
Can you believe after a totally weird year we are once again on the cusp of the autumn solstice – time flies!
I hope you have enjoyed the rain as much as we have, what a blessing after the dry years we have had. This was certainly rain that replenishes the ground water.
Jeffrey and I were on our drive through the grassland and we simultaneously spotted a different wildflower. Imagine our delight when we went to have a look and saw it was Habaneria nyikana the first orchid we have found in the grassland at Random Harvest.
I think it was thanks to the rain that it appeared as they grow naturally in damp grassland. Although the individual flowers are small, they are just perfect. Needless to say, we go and visit it every day just to check on it and wonder at its tiny beauty.
The Lucky Winners of the R1000.00 Random Harvest Gift Voucher from the latest draw of the ‘FOOD PARCEL DONATION’ drive in the nursery are - Sue Goodman and Errol Minnie.
I would like to ask that the people who have been donating regularly into the bank account please send me their contact details, as I am battling to find them. I would like to thank them for their unbelievable generosity. I would also like to organise a little event where they meet some of the people they have been so generously supporting.
If you are able to help with this drive the following are the banking details.
Bank Account Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account : code 25 07 41
We are open on all the upcoming public holidays except Good Friday. Check our website footer for other days.
On Easter Sunday from 12h00 to 3h00 we will be offering a Carvery for lunch
Join us and enjoy a variety of roasted meats (pork, lamb, chicken and venison) cooked on a rotisserie to keep them succulent. This will be served with a variety of roasted vegetables, gravy, salad, and homemade dessert. Cost R170.00 per person.
Booking is essential – Please contact Ronald on 066 587 3077 or email [email protected] Your booking will be confirmed upon payment of a deposit of R100.00 per person.
We have built a new cutting house for our succulents. It is beautiful and turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I am very proud of all the people who helped with this project.
Another exciting development is that our new water treatment system is now complete. I cannot contain my excitement at how well it is working.
Thanks to all my staff and Robert of Waterbrothers ([email protected]) who helped to bring it to completion. It is working better than I I would have believed.
The building for the new Spa that will be opening at Random Harvest is almost ready. I am hoping this will be an added reason for you to visit us. We are going to be starting on the gardens this week and hope to create another peaceful oasis on the farm.
Jeffrey and the guys have been working extremely hard building a grassland garden display in the retail nursery. It has been hard work because, if anyone knows Jeffrey, there always have to be rocks in a garden.
I am hoping this display will inspire you to use more grasses and wildflowers in your own gardens. These gardens attract small wildlife like butterflies, insects and lizards to your garden and add a wonderful sense of movement.
We will be publishing an article on our blog, www.randomharvest.co.za within the next two weeks.
We have also changed a water feature in the nursery and surrounded it with succulents. It demonstrates how you can incorporate water and succulents in a garden.
I hope you enjoy these displays when next we welcome you at the nursery.
Bring the children along any day from Saturday the 3rd April to Sunday the 2nd May for an Easter Egg Hunt. They will be taken around the nursery, to find the answers to a few simple environmental questions and from there go back to reception to collect their gift.
I thought I would remind you that every Wednesday is ‘Pensioners Day’ where we offer a 10% discount on purchases and best of all, offer bona fide pensioners tea and scones, for just R40.00 per person.
This is the perfect place to be at our age, during this time of COVID, as the tea garden is open air, and you are well able to keep your social distance.
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 3rd March 2021
Topic: Butterfly gardening in and around Johannesburg
Create a corner in your garden dedicated to butterflies. We will talk about their needs, their life cycle, their host plants and some of the butterflies you can expect to see in your garden.
Date: Wednesday 7th April 2021
Topic: Protecting our bees and creating habitat for them.
Once again Clem will give a talk on the importance of bees in our lives and how we can help protect them from the many pollutants humanity spreads around.
We will also talk on how to make your garden more ‘bee friendly’. Bees are mostly unnoticed around us and some people have an unreasonable fear of them. We hope to dispel this during this talk. Bee-friendly plants will also be available for purchase after the talk.
Saturday, 27th March 2021 – Lance Robinson
Start time: 7h00 for 7h30 sharp.
Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a scrumptious breakfast buffet
Saturday, 17th April 2021 – Andre Marx
Start time: 7h00 for 7h30 sharp.
Cost: R175.00 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.
What better way to start the weekend but with a walk in the fresh autumn air early in the morning and watch birds and all the other life around you. It makes for a peaceful start.
The previous course was very well attended, and the attendees were full of pride when the course was completed including some of my staff who were smiling from ear to ear when they received their certificates.
The next course is as follows:
DATE: Friday 14th May 2021
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30
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]
Our units are scattered around the farm and have their own well-lit carports and private gardens. You are not on top of one another, so they are safe. We are also meticulous about sanitising each unit before and after each stay.
Each cottage has free access to WiFi and there are private braai facilities and outdoor seating. (We have had a few problems with the WiFi but are adding new installations to ensure uninterrupted connection for all)
The tea garden provides breakfast and other meals in the open air and is fully sanitised after each sitting.
Join us and breathe the fresh air and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the farm.
We are busy completing our new baking room for the tea garden and are working to be able to provide you with even more delicious cakes and with biscuits and baked goods for sale in the shop.
Remember, we are a venue out in the open air.
See details for the Carvery for Easter Sunday at the beginning of this newsletter.
We have an exciting range of spring flowering bulbs in the shop. These should be planted now for a blaze of colour in early spring.
It is also time to plant your Namaqualand Daisy seed. These are easy to grow and will reward you with a myriad of cheerful flowers in the very early spring.
If you are a bit impatient, we will have seedlings in 6 packs ready by mid-March.
We do try to have mainly hand and homemade goodies in the shop with an emphasis on local crafts people.
In the picture you will see some of the range that is in stock at present:
Rusks, Fudge and Biscuits made in our own kitchen.
While the Handbags, Garden Aprons and Dogs Blankets are made by local seamstresses.
All our beadwork bird feeders are made by local people in the informal settlements.
And our other jewellery and things made by formal NGO projects who help people to become self-sufficient.
There is a wonderful new book out this month ‘Aquatic and wetland plants of Southern Africa.’ This book fills an open space in any botanical or gardening book collection as it helps identify aquatic plants in South Africa.
This is an invaluable addition to assist landscapers and gardeners who are creating wetland gardens or rehabilitating wetlands.
If you have treated yourself to some spring bulbs for your garden here are a few tips on how to get the best out of them.
A few don’t’s before planting:
• Well-drained soil is a must as these bulbs will not tolerate staying too wet for longer periods. They also flower and perform best in full sun. So, choose your space well.
• Make sure you plant the bulb right side up. If you look carefully there is a bulb plate where the roots shoot out and, of course, this is the bottom of the bulb.
• As a rule of thumb, plant the bulb about 2cm below the surface of the soil. Water every third day until they sprout and then keep them moist but not wet.
• If you intend leaving them in the ground to multiply when the have died back – keep note of the area and do not dig the soil or plant anything on top of them.
• If you want to lift them up wait until the leaves have completely died back then remove them from the soil and dry them on straw in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant them next year.
• If you choose to plant them in containers the same principles apply, and you can keep them relatively dry once the leaves have died back and start watering the following mid -March and all things being equal they will have multiplied and hopefully give you lots of flowers.
We have little packets of slow release fertiliser available in the shop for your bulbs.
Impatiens hochstetterii - Mauve Impatiens (E) This pretty, soft perennial thrives in shade and will grace the shady areas of your garden with pretty leaves and many small pink flowers from early spring until late autumn. Then they should be cut back and mulched for the winter. Don’t despair if they are hit by frost as this is natural pruning or even if the mother plant dies the seeds it has dropped will germinate in spring and you will once again be able to enjoy this pretty plant.
Sideroxylon inerme - White Milkwood (E); Witmelkhout (A) This beautifully shaped, medium sized evergreen tree is a protected species in South Africa. It bears clusters of pretty white flowers that are followed by black berries which are relished by birds. Plant as a specimen shade tree or as an element of a forest in your garden. This species has a rich history and is long lived. Today you can visit the Post Office tree in Mossell Bay which was used by early explorers to leave post to be taken to their homes.
Begonia homonyma - Large-leaved Wild Begonia (E); Wildebegonia (A) We have managed to propagate this rare plant from cuttings in the nursery and are now able to offer it to you. It has a thick fleshy stem and large semi-succulent leaves. It bears pink flowers all summer long. Use in a shady part of the garden or as a stunning container plant where it even looks beautiful when leafless with its shiny succulent stem.
Aloe dyeri - Large Flowered Aloe (E) This is one of the rosette-forming spotted Aloes but it is a giant one which makes it a wonderful form plant. It prefers to grow in dappled shade or shade but should receive an hour or two of sunshine per day. In early autumn (they are flowering now) it sends up this long, branched flowering stem that carries the myriad of red-orange flowers. As you can see from the picture it makes a wonderful container plant.
Grewia flava - Brandy Bush (E); Rosyntjiebos (A) The common name, Brandy Bush, is quite apt as the delicious fruit of the small to medium sized shrub are used to make ‘Mampoer or Moonshine’. This shrub bears impressive numbers of yellow star-shaped flowers with fluffy looking stamens in the middle. It can be pruned into a tiny tree or kept as a bushy shrub. Another attractive feature are its grey-green leaves. A marvellous wildlife friendly plant for your garden that can be used as a focal point.
Greyia sutherlandii - Natal bottlebrush (E); Baakhout (A) In spring this plant is spectacular as it is covered in spikes of crimson flowers on the tips of the bare branches. The flowers are nectar-laden just when the birds and insects in your garden need a boost. The attractive round leaves then appear and show off the flowers as well. Use as a focal point in the garden. The old leaves persist on the tree and can be removed by hand to tidy up the tree and show off its quite convoluted shape and bark in winter.
Maytenus undata - Koko Tree (E); Kokoboom (A) In autumn this beautiful extremely hardy small tree bursts into flower. The flowers are small but carried in attractive clusters. The fruits that follow split to reveal bright red seeds. An irresistible tree for a smaller garden
Crocosmia paniculata - Zigzag Crocosmia (E); Waaierlelie (A) This lovely, deciduous bulbous plant is extremely hardy and hails from the grasslands around Dullstroom. It has attractive pleated leaves and can be planted in clusters in a grassland garden or back drop to a pretty ‘Cottage Garden’ style flower bed. A bulb that will pleasantly surprise you when it pops up in the spring.
Setaria megaphylla - Broad Leaved Bristle Grass (E) A wonderful grass to plant in the shade. If you are looking for a plant that thrives in the shade and add texture to a shade bed use this grass. As it ages it can look a bit scruffy - just cut it back and it will have grown again in about a week and look wonderful again.
Please remember to guard you trees against this terrible plague and that we have a totally environmentally friendly solution available, ‘PSHB Fungicide’, with which I have been able to protect all our trees while not decimating the wildlife and birds that I love so much.
A few people have mentioned that they have not been able to contact Mike to help with the spraying of large trees. For this I must apologise but we had diverted his old number to the new and this seems not to have been working.
Mikes New number is 082 721 2478 and email [email protected] If you have trouble contacting him please call me, Linda on 079 872 8975 and I will be very happy to help.
I loved the rain! I especially loved the water storming down our water harvesting furrow into the dam. In a few hours, the amount of water more than doubled the size of the dam.
The ground was so wet that it couldn’t absorb all the water and it started filtering into the dam from the grassland. A sight I haven’t seen for many a year.
The Striated Heron (Green-backed Heron) was standing at the edge of the dam where the water was pouring, hunting. His hunt was very successful although I couldn’t see what, exactly, he was catching.
The water is so deep that the Papyrus and Bullrushes have grown extra tall. It was unusual to see the Moorhen sitting in the top of the Papyrus.
The Moorhens have babies, but we haven’t been lucky enough to get a picture as there is thick growth around the dam.
Talking about sitting in the Papyrus, Jeff and I were lucky enough to see the Squacco Heron sitting there. We seldom see him at the dam, so this was pretty exciting.
We had decided that this year we wanted to see a Yellow-Crowned Bishop which we haven’t seen for a few years and Lo and Behold! We were lucky enough to see one at the dam. Unfortunately, it is not a great picture.
This little juvenile Malachite Kingfisher was fishing from his perch. He was so lightning fast when he did dive that we were unable to get a picture but did have a wonderful few minutes watching his endeavours.
The Egyptian Goose babies have grown up and left home. Happily, all of them survived.
The grass is getting so long now in the grassland that we seldom see the Hares. Ronald got this lovely picture of a Hare at the edge of the dam. Adorable.
I loved the low hanging clouds over the grassland. The rain has hastened the time of the grasses as they have grown tall and are seeding frantically. This is of course offering a bounty for the birds.
There have been many butterflies around, some of them acting strangely like this Garden Inspector lying flat on the rock. He is not the only species that has been doing this. I wondered if he was trying to warm up.
Not only have the butterflies been acting strangely but I found these roots growing out of the stem of one of our plum trees.
Mike says it may be because the root system below ground is not doing so well. I thought this may be because of too much water. I am glad I found this sign and sprayed with PANAF 3 which is a booster against stress and hopefully it will assist the tree.
I have this beautiful almost Navy Blue Agapanthus inapertus which I have been trying to get going for a few years. This year it finally seeded and what happens - some little gremlin (I think it is an ant) climbs in to eat my green seed! Sometimes you can’t win when you are dedicated to loving all of nature. I am going to have to use my ingenuity to save at least some of the seeds to sow.
This year the Ficus abutilifolia (Large-leaved Rock Fig) was dripping with seed much to the delight of myself and all the birds that have been feasting on them. I at least have a lot of seed to plant this year.
In closing I would like to share with you some pictures of the amazing fungi that have been popping up after the rain. They seem to be all in different stages of their life cycle. I am not even going to try and name them here as this would probably be a few weeks of intensive searching for their names.
I hope you enjoy the gardens you have created and the wonderful autumn weather.
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