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Random Harvest Newsletter - October 2021

Posted On: Friday, October 1, 2021

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

It is so wonderful that spring is in the air. It is such a privilege to watch the burgeoning of life with all the new leaves sprouting, bees buzzing and the birds singing. My next event I look forward to is the return of the Paradise Flycatcher round about the 10th of October. Then I will know summer really is here and the rain is imminent.

One of the most beautiful features of spring is the colours of the new leaves like this Red-leaved Rock Fig (Ficus ingens). When you drive along the highways and byways of the colder areas of Gauteng you will see them creeping along the tops of the rocks. It is a beautiful sight as the rocks looks as if they are on fire. In warm areas it grows into a majestic tree.

FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS

You have no idea how truly grateful I am to all the people who have been donating to our food parcel drive. The difference you are making is significant.

The two lucky people who have won the Random Harvest Gift Vouchers valued at R1000.00 each are Monica Seuffert and Sarah Charlton

If you would care to donate this is the bank account number: Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.

IN THE NURSERY

Mercy and Sylis are hard at work preparing the trays for our mammoth seed planting exercise which we embark on at this time every year. It is also my favourite time and every day I visit to check who has popped their heads out overnight – it is endlessly exciting.

It has been a monster job building and filling the new filter for our sewage treatment pond.

My staff have worked so incredibly hard filling with porous bricks. When it was time to fill with crushed stone. I used the TLB which fortunately was here mixing our potting soil.

At last, it was time to turn the pump on. I am so excited as it works perfectly, and the Papyrus has already started growing, the water is clear, and the odour gone. Happy days.

EVENTS

Bird Walks

Saturday, 9th October 2021 – Lance Robinson
Start time: 7h00 FOR 7h30 sharp.

Saturday 20th November 2021 – Andre Marx
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp

On these walk you may be able to see the Paradise Flycatchers who will have just arrived as well as other exciting returning birds.

Join Lance or Andre for an interesting and informative walk that is lots of fun for both novice and experienced birders. Then enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast with like-minded people – a great way to start the weekend.

Start time: 7h00 FOR 7h30 sharp.

Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a breakfast buffet

Booking is essential - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143

Talk about Trees

Richard Gill (an expert on trees on the Highveld and Magaliesberg) will share his vast knowledge of ‘Trees suitable for the highveld’ with you.

He will speak about beautiful trees such as this Rock Elder (Canthium gillfillani) with its beautiful silvery stems against the magnificent Highveld sky.

Date: Saturday 16th October 2021
Time: 9h30
Cost: R50.00 per person including tea and scones.

Booking is essential - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143

Blooming Grassland Walk

The number of wildflowers starting to pop their heads up between the burnt grasses of the grassland is mind boggling. We had a walk with Keith Kirsten and I think we converted him into a grassland enthusiast.

 

By the time Jeff takes you on this walk the plants will not only be shooting but hopefully in bloom. (See the ‘On The Farm’ for more happenings in the grassland)

Date: Saturday 23rd October 2021
Time: 8h30 for 9h00
Cost: R185.00 per person. This includes a brunch picnic under the trees at the dam and cold drinks along the way

Booking is essential - please contact Lindelani on [email protected] Tel. No. 082-553-0598 6 or 066 587 3143
For the not so mobile we do have Golf Carts that take you down to the grassland and bring you back again.

Coffee Mornings

Date: Wednesday 6th October 2021
Topic: Growing indigenous plants from seed 

I love seed sowing so much I thought a good topic for the October coffee morning would be about growing indigenous plants from seed. We will share our experience with you and welcome you sharing your experiences and asking questions.

Date: Wednesday 3rd November 2021
Topic: Water in the garden

We will talk about adding water to the garden for the wildlife and your enjoyment whether it is a simple birdbath or a more complicated water feature.

Birds like this Cape Robin chat will appreciate even a dripper.

PRACTICAL DOMESTIC GARDENER TRAINING

Give your gardener the gift of knowledge and the ability to help you more efficiently in your garden this summer.

Lindsay Gray will be holding the next course on.

DATES: Friday 15th October 2021
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30

The cost of the course includes a set of notes for both the gardener and employer, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival, breakfast and lunch and a certificate Your gardener will be more excited and confident to help you create your own personal haven.

TO BOOK or for more info including cost of the course contact Lindsay Gray on 082-449-9237 or [email protected]

Cottages

“Thank you for providing city folk with a refuge of good space and hospitality” was a comment from one of our guests

The pace of modern life can sometimes feel a little unrelenting. Here at Random Harvest, you can escape it all and enjoy beautiful flowers and watching birds in your own private garden as well as caring staff and good food.

This is another remark from a guest. “Start your day right the next morning with a walk to the dam and listen to the wonderful birds singing and before leaving don’t forget your breakfast made from fresh ingredients.’

Guests never have to worry about arriving late – our security guards are trained to check in late arrivals. They also do regular foot patrols to keep you safe.

Tea Garden

I thought I would remind you that we are now able to serve Picnics which you can enjoy in the garden or on the farm. Laze about on your picnic blanket or relax on one of the garden benches and enjoy your surroundings.

Frans is also baking a delicious Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel tart which we have on special this month.

I would also like to remind you that we have free unlimited WiFi – what better surroundings to work in while we see to your every need.

To keep the children engaged while you enjoy your meal there are colouring books and crayons at the reception for them.

In the Shop

I am so excited to have found these lovely pots that are made by a young man in Mpumalanga – I loved them, and I hope you love them as well.

We have moved everything around on the veranda and moved the shop around which I think is more convenient and comfortable to browse in.

I would like to mention the natural range of skin care products we sell.

African potato cream – made with miracle indigenous plant Hypoxis species which will help soothe skin conditions such as sunburn, eczema and inflammation as well as help with joint stiffness, arthritis and muscular pain.

Sausage tree range (cream, soaps, sunscreen, insect repellent) – made with the interesting huge sausage-like pods of the Kigelia Africana.

Quintessence balm – containing a range of helpful essential oils to soothe the skin and help aches and pains.

Book of the month – Gladioli of South Africa by Rod and Rachel Saunders. What an amazing piece of work. Marvel at the size, colour and variety of only one genus of plant in our wonderful in South African flora.

Each species has wonderful pictures to help you identify them (a lot easier than a botanical key). Take it into the veld with you or just be an armchair botanist and enjoy the pictures and information in comfort.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD.

Salix mucronata subs. woodii – Cape willow
This very tough small to medium sized tree (2 to 5M) has a beautiful drooping shape. The lovely bi-coloured leaves look beautiful when the soft sinuous branches move in the slightest breeze and the leaves flutter. The flowers attract a whole host of insects and thus birds to the garden. Plant along riverbanks, where it stabilises soil, or around a pond. It will grow both in water or in a normally irrigated garden.

Schotia brachypetala – Weeping Boerbean
I don’t think there is a more beautiful flowering tree anywhere. In spring it bursts into flower with big clusters of cup-shaped, nectar filled scarlet flowers that attract all manner of birds. Some, like Sunbirds, will sip the nectar. Others, like Weavers, will make holes in the bottoms of the flowers and rob them of their nectar without pollinating them. The flowers also attract a whole host of insects. Added to all this beauty are the wonderful branching patterns and beautiful seasonal foliage.

Ehretia rigida – Puzzle Bush
Another beautiful, fast growing, tough survivor I would like to share with you is the Puzzle Bush. I love the tangled but graceful branching patterns. At this time of year each is packed with lilac or white flowers. The flowers are a-buzz with insects feeding on the nectar and pollen. These are followed by orange berries that are irresistible to the birds and are edible. Use as an informal hedge or form plant in the knowledge that it is a great survivor and element of an ecologically sensitive garden. Although a large shrub it can be pruned into a decorative small tree.

Drosanthemum hispidum – Hairy Dew Flower
I am in awe of the carpet of breath-taking, dark cerise-pink flowers. The number of bees and other insects buzzing around the flowers is astounding. It is hardy as they sailed through this last cold winter and are in full bloom. It is best planted in full sun and looks gorgeous in containers, a rockery or stabilising banks.

Albuca nelsonii – Candelabrum Lily
Looking for a wonderful plant that will grow on the south side of the wall where it is sometimes in shade and sometimes in sun? This one is perfect! It is very hardy and needs little care except for adding a little compost and a little water and will grow well under trees. Its green-striped, scented flowers on long stems make good cut flowers. The flowers attract a whole host of tiny insects to the garden which are a great food source for the birds. Its elongated tubers can, when exposed, make an interesting and beautiful container plant. Plant in full sun in a rockery or mixed succulent bed.

Senecio rhomboideus - Fleshy-leaved Daisy
Extremely hardy, deciduous, succulent shrublet with large toothed, pale green, fleshy, diamond-shaped leaves. It bears sprays of yellow flowers on long stalks throughout summer.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL 

Bersama lucens - Glossy White-ash (E)
This small compact tree with its dense crown and beautiful bark is ideal for a small garden and is beautiful when planted in shade. The foliage is very glossy and goes through a series of colours from russet brown when young to dark green when mature. The spikes of greenish flowers appear from Sept. to June and bear seeds that split to reveal scarlet seeds which the birds just love. This beautiful, rare tree makes a great container plant and will grow indoors.

Silene bellidioides - umjuje (Z)
If you regularly come home when it is dark, plant this little perennial plant where you can see it as the pure white flowers open at night and seem to glow in the dark. The plant is scented and pollinated by moths. Plant this very hardy plant in a sunny area of your garden or in a grassland garden for it to thrive.

Pelargonium quercifolium ‘Royal Oak’
Hardy, evergreen, drought-resistant shrublet with interesting, oak-shaped leaves. A useful foliage and textural plant that is worth planting just for its beautiful, maroon-veined leaves which are balsam-scented. It also bears clusters of gorgeous dark pink to red flowers from Aug. to Jan that are held well above the plant. The flowers attract insects to the garden. Looks beautiful in either a mixed bed, mass-planted or as a container plant. Plant in full sun or half-day shade and, importantly, plant them in well-drained soil.

Gardening Tip

To ensure you have a beautiful garden throughout summer and into winter there are a few jobs that need to be done.

Firstly, you should cut back your Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) and Ribbon Bushes (Hypoestes aristata) back by at least one third. This will ensure mass flowering in autumn and winter as they flower on the new growth. Mackaya bella also flowers on the new growth so should also be pruned – this will also help to keep it in shape.

When your Pelargoniums have finished flowering prune back the woody bits, this will keep them looking good and flowering well.

Pruning now becomes quite important, in particular this year, as some of your plants may have been damaged by the frost. Prune off all the dead tips. This will give them a season to grow back and toughen up before next winter.

It is important to step back and check when pruning and use this opportunity to shape your plants as well.

Prune your Plectranthus species as well as there is still enough time to do so in order for them to flower well in March.

The correct way to prune is just above the node as seen in this picture.

Take this opportunity to tidy and clean your garden and once this is done, mulch well with compost or wood chip mulch. This will both help to keep the weeds down and save you money on watering as they will need less water. Talking about watering, it is much better to do a deep watering much less frequently than just to sprinkle a little every day, your plants will appreciate it.

Finally, if you have grasses in your garden cut them back to about 8 to 10 cm tall and remove all the thatch.

ON THE FARM

On my word! There is so much happening on the farm I don’t know where to begin. Between the birds, the flowers and the grassland Jeffrey and I just want to spend the day going around and marvelling at everything.

I thought I should start with my passion, the grassland. After burning the first flower to pop its head up was this beautiful Gazania krebsiana.

Lotononis calycina

The number of wildflowers just popping above the ground is astounding. The pre-rain and post fire plants are starting to bloom now and every day we see new flowers. Some so tiny that you really have to look for them and others showy.

Kouhoutia amatymbica  

Moraea thompsonii

Here is a taste of some picture of them.

The bees and other insects are also starting to buzz around the plants in the grassland like this bee feasting on the nectar offered by the Ledebouria sp.

Thanks to my mom, we are expanding the grassland this year. She kindly gave up part of one of her cow’s paddocks for this. So we have been busy moving fences.

There are so many flowers about at this time of the year. One of the gorgeous displays are fruit trees which have been in full blossom. Unfortunately, this wonderful display doesn’t last long but it does give one the spring feeling as they are some of the first plants to blossom in spring.

In the garden there are so many plants in flower but of course at this time of the year the truly spectacular part of a spring garden is when all the Clivia miniata burst into flower.

This year the banks of Clivia are looking simply breath-taking. I have so many of my customers photographing them just so that they can remember their beauty and magnificence. 

In flower as well is the Natal form of Scadoxus punicues (Paintbrush) which is tall and robust.

I love the mix with the Barberton Daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) as the colours complement each other perfectly.

I also wanted to share this picture of a pair of Amethyst sunbirds feasting on the nectar from the flowers. It shows just how large the flowers are as the Sunbirds look tiny in proportion.

This year was the first time we saw the Sunbirds sipping at the flowers of the Veltheimia bracteata (Forest Lily). This is the true beauty of an indigenous garden there are always surprises with the interaction between the plants and the wildlife in the area.

Sunbirds can also sometimes be quite clever. This one spotted a bit of plumber’s tape hanging from an irrigation pipe. Thinking this would make perfect nesting material he took the end in his beak and flew around and around the pipe until he unravelled the tape and it broke. He then flew off to use it in his nest building endeavours.

The Masked Weavers are also busy building their nests. They seem to break down more than they leave intact. This little guy posed beautifully in the start of his nest.

Doves find the weirdest places to nest. This little chap chose to nest on top of the pebbles in the nursery. Needless to say, we can’t sell any until his babies have left the nest.

Not only do we have to contend with the greedy little Mousebirds eating my Vygie mother plants. But now this Streaky-headed Seedeater has found them as well. These I am prepared to sacrifice as he is a rare little visitor.

Thank goodness the Mousebirds have moved their attention from my Mother Plants to the Aloe rupestris (Bottlebrush Aloe) which are in full flower. As you can see there is a whole family with their heads deep in the flowers guzzling the nectar. At least when they do this, they are also doing their job of pollination.

Jeff is becoming a great bird watcher. He took this picture of a Grey-headed Bushshrike in the nursery. I can’t wait to hear his wonderful call filling the nursery.

The Puff-back is also hopping around in the garden.

The Lapwings are all in the middle of their breeding season. Jeff and I call them the ‘Plover Patrol’ as they protect their territory. They also get cheekier and cheekier when breeding and regularly chase Abby and the Golf Cart.

The migrant birds are all coming back and it is wonderful to see the swallows swooping around the dam.

The birds are slowly starting to return to the dam after our cleaning efforts. We saw this duck which confused us as it looked almost like a Black duck but not quite and was with the Yellow-billed Ducks. Andre identified it as a hybrid between these two species. There is always something to learn.

The nursery and farm are so beautiful no matter what time it is. I had to go out early one morning and saw just how beautiful the trees are when in silhouette in the gentle light just before sunrise.

With spring in the air, the nursery is also looking beautiful with so many flowers and nature bursting with life.

It is a marvellous time of year to take a little time out and visit us here at Random Harvest. You will leave refreshed and relaxed.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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