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Random Harvest Newsletter - February 2022

Posted On: Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

The start of 2022 has been very exciting. The rain has been marvellous, you can almost hear the plants growing. It has been so overcast and cloudy it reminds me of what a friend once said that it is like living in Tupperware.

Best of all the Bullfrog babies have grown up and left the dam to start their lives in the grassland. They are exquisite replicas of their parents. I get so filled with joy when I see them

IN THE NURSERY

I have been thinking of ways we can try and limit the use of plastic in the nursery, although we do recycle every bit we can.

I was lucky enough to find some second-hand bricks at a very reasonable rate and one of my customers, very kindly, gave me bricks from paving they were pulling up. We are using them to lay paving to pack the plants on. This will eventually lead to us not having to use plastic sheeting and an added bonus is that it makes it a lot more efficient to recycle run off water from under the plants.

We have also been busy making compost with grass bales we cut last season. I can’t believe it is almost time to start cutting veld grass again – time flies but we have to keep it up to make sure we have enough compost.

FOOD PARCELS

The food parcel drive is going well and some of the feedback we have had is that parents are so happy their children can go to school with full tummies. Things we don’t even think of.

 

The winners of the next draw from donations made at the nursery are Marilyn Glansbeek and Arabelle Peirce

If you could possibly continue to help out it would be appreciated by us and especially by the people who are being assisted.

The bank account number for donations is
Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.

EVENTS

BIRD WALKS

Andre and Lance have once again kindly agreed to continue with the bird walks which are such fun and a great learning opportunity to help you get the most out of enjoying outings and holidays by starting to know and enjoy the birds around us.

We have 176 bird species on our list for the farm, so you are bound to see interesting species such as this pair of Thick-billed Weaver which are breeding at the dam.

Saturday 12th February 2022 with Lance Robinson
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp

Saturday 5th March 2022 with Andre Marx
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp

Cost: R175.00 per person, this includes a breakfast buffet – a great way to start the weekend

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

COFFEE MORNING – Time 10h30

Date: Wednesday 2nd February 2022
Topic: Natural gardens, Garden observations and questions and answers
I thought it was time for another question and answers session. We can talk about the interesting things that we have observed in our gardens. For those of us with a natural garden we can share our observations.

Date: Wednesday 2nd March 2022
Topic: Spiders in Gauteng
I am so excited Astri Leroy has kindly agreed to give us a talk on spiders in Gauteng. After the talk we will take a walk in the garden looking for spiders which are so fundamental to the health of the garden and the ecosystem

PRACTICAL DOMESTIC GARDENER TRAINING

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

This course would also be perfect for anyone who would like to start the fascinating and rewarding hobby of gardening and doesn’t know where to begin. All the basics are covered and gives a person a good grounding.

Details for Lindsay Gray’s next courses are as follows:

DATES: Friday 18th February 2022 and Friday 1st April 2022
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

If it's relaxation and pampering that delights you and your partner this valentine’s day, then a visit to Random Harvest country cottages is ideal for you. Stroll through our beautiful gardens and enjoy the beauty and tranquility found within the farm. Let us fill your month of love with laughter, love and happy moments that will definitely become your favorite memories.

To help you keep the romance alive for the whole month we are offering you 10% off on mid-week stays.

Spoil the one you love with a romantic 60-minute full body massage that includes an express facial. For more details contact Epikaizo spa on 078 010 0691.

SHOP

I thought I would remind you that we keep proper raw honey directly from Clem, the Beekeeper. When we are lucky enough, we do have honey from our own hives in the shop. R98.00 per bottle.

My mother and Ivy make good homemade jam from fruit from our farm with no preservatives just natural fruit and sugar. The Mulberry jam, which is difficult to find is particularly good. R90.00 per bottle

Remember to spoil yourself with a copy of the beautiful, thick notebooks, featuring Heather’s artwork, that we had printed. They are just perfect if you keep a journal or just prefer to use something beautiful. R150.00,

I absolutely love Heathers artwork and we have a few original paintings in the shop for sale.

BOOOK OF THE MONTH

We still have some copies of the beautiful botanical book ‘The Cape Orchids’ by William Liltveld and Steven Johnson at a cost of R1995.00.
If you are a book and plant lover this book is a must for your library.

TEA GARDEN

On Valentine’s Day you may want to bring your loved one for a peaceful, catered picnic in the garden. We will offer a complimentary glass of Champagne and Orange Juice for you to enjoy with the picnic. Please contact Lindelani to book on telephone 067 889 0648 or 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]. Read more about what you can find in this wonderful picnic basket.

Each Wednesday is Pensioner’s Day in the Tea Garden. We have unfortunately had to put up the price of Tea or coffee and scones to R50.00 per person and still offer a 10% discount on plants and food other than scones for Pensioners on a Wednesday.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Thunbergia alata ‘Yellow’ - Black-eyed Susan (E)
This hardy, delicate looking, twining climber is actually quite robust. It has lovely heart-shaped leaves and gorgeous yellow trumpet-shaped flowers with a dark centre. It has some flowers throughout the year but is particularly floriferous in summer and autumn. The flowers attract tiny insects to the garden. Use this plant to cover a fence, climb a trellis or even as a groundcover to cover large areas. It is also looks beautiful tumbling over a terrace wall or out of a hanging basket. Plant in semi-shade or shady areas. Prune back quite hard once a year

Bulbine abyssinica - Bushy Bulbine (E)
A very hardy drought and fire resistant, grass-like succulent plant that grows in the cold grasslands. It bears densely packed spikes of star-shaped, yellow flowers from Oct. to Feb. with some spikes throughout the year. The flowers attract many, small pollinating insects to the garden. The combination of this yellow-flowered, grass-like plant and the blue-flowered Felicia amelloides makes a stunning display for most of the year in a garden bed if the dead flowers of both species are removed regularly. An important element of a grassland garden.

Ipomoea albivenia - Climbing Kapok (E)
Fairly hardy, deciduous climber with thick, glossy, grey-green, heart-shaped leaves that are velvety-white when young. It has large, solitary, trumpet-shaped, scented, white flowers in Feb. and Mar. The flowers open at night which means it is probably moth pollinated. The fruit is a woody capsule that bursts open to release the decorative, cotton-wool-covered seeds, giving it a second ‘flowering’ season. Plant in full sun or semi-shade in very well-drained soil. Beware of overwatering.

Aloe suprafoliata - Book Aloe (E)
A hardy, solitary, stemless Aloe with a slightly spiraled twist. It is easily confused with A. pretoriensis when not in flower as it has similar bluish-green, red tipped leaves. The young leaves are two-ranked (hence the common name) and only form rosettes when mature. Unbranched flowering stalks bear pinkish red, cylindrical flowers from May to July. This beautiful species needs to be planted in full sun, in well-drained soil, and also makes an excellent container plant.

Acacia gerrardii - Red Thorn (E)
This tall Acacia can be used in smaller gardens as it tends to have a long straight stem that develops a flattish, sparsely, branching crown. It thus throws only light shade and many plants and lawn will grow underneath it. The dark grey fissured bark shows off the red under-bark.

Eucomis vandermerwii - Spotted-leaf Eucomis (E)
Very hardy, small, deciduous bulbous plant has a rosette of beautiful leaves that are tinged wine red, have masses of dark maroon spots and wavy edges. In summer it bears spikes of long-lasting wine-red flowers topped with dark green, maroon blotched Pineapple-like bracts.

Best planted in groups to get the full effect of this wonderful, rare little plant. Use in a rock garden or make stunning container plantings. Plant in well-drained compost rich soil. Be careful not to overwater when they are dormant.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL – Less 15%

Eragrostis superba - Saw-tooth Love Grass (E)
This hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, perennial grass has attractive, bright-green leaves, mostly concentrated at the base of the tuft. It flowers from Sept. to May and has a spikelet of beautiful, large, golden, heart-shaped seeds. An attractive garden subject. As with all grasses, to keep it healthy, it should be cut back once a year and raked to remove the thatch. Plant in sun or semi-shade. It grows in moist areas and will tolerate most soil types.

Aloe cooperi - Cooper’s Aloe (E)
Very hardy, stemless Aloe with long, narrow, yellow-green leaves that have white spots beneath. It has spikes of apricot or yellow, tubular flowers from Dec. to Mar. The flowers attract nectar-feeding birds such as Sunbirds and White-eyes. A lovely garden plant and a beautiful addition to a grassland or marsh area. Plant as a solitary plant or in small groups where it will thrive in a variety of soil types. Unusually for an Aloe, it also grows in marshy places. Plant in full sun or semi-shade.

Kirkia wilmsii - Mountain Seringa (E)
Fairly hardy, deciduous, often multi-stemmed large tree has beautiful, fine, feathery foliage. It has smooth grey bark with scars where the leaves were attached and is most attractive. The autumn colours are brilliant pinks and reds that set the tree alight.

The spring colours are almost as beautiful making this a great foliage and texture plant. It has masses of small yellow flowers clustered at the ends of the branches from Oct. to Dec. It makes a lovely specimen plant but has a swollen root system full off water which is used in times of drought. These roots can cause damage to paving, pools and walls. Protect from frost when young.

Melianthus comosus - Feathery Touch-me-not (E)
Very hardy, evergreen, winter-growing, drought-resistant, fast-growing shrub. The large, compound leaves are neatly serrated and strongly-aromatic. The sprays of scarlet flowers are sweet smelling and have abundant nectar, which attracts insects, bees, butterflies, Sunbirds and Cape White-eyes. Its flowers, from Oct to Dec., are followed by attractive papery pods. This plant will tolerate very hot, dry and frosty conditions and is ideal for a low-maintenance garden. Prune back hard after seeding to keep in shape and to ensure mass flowering the next season. Plant in sun or semi-shade.

GARDENING TIP

I thought I would just continue with the subject of weeds which we started last month.

Two of the most pernicious weeds you can have in your garden are Onion Weed and Golden Nut Grass.

It is unwise to pull them out as the Golden Nut grass will grow again from any tiny piece of root you may break off while the Onion Weed harbours hundreds of tiny bulbils each of which will grow if left in the ground.

When they flower you need to deal with them immediately before they drop seeds and compound the problems. Cut the flowers of the Nut Grass off and destroy them. In the case of the Onion Weed pull the flowering stalk out of the centre of the plant – this is said to weaken the bulb, but I am not sure.

I have given up trying to dig them up as unless you are exceptionally diligent about getting all the bits out of the ground they will grow again.

I was told by a customer that Turpentine, which is manufactured from Pine Trees, will kill them off – and it does but must be used with care. Use a mask and gloves and dip small pieces of sponge into the turpentine and thoroughly sponge it onto the leaves and flowering stems. It is very effective, but I reiterate should be used with care. It is biodegradable and will not be detrimental to the environment as evinced by the many Pine Forests in South Africa and its myriad uses in the perfume and pharmaceutical industry.

ON THE FARM

We had the very exciting time of watching the bullfrog babies develop. The one big problem was that I didn’t want them to fall prey to the birds that thought they were a tasty meal.

We hadn’t seen the Purple Heron for a few weeks and lo and behold as the babies developed, he came skulking around. I had some of my staff working around the dam to try and protect at least some of the babies. This may not be the way of nature but bullfrogs on the Highveld are quite endangered so I do feel justified.

The Purple Heron managed to get plenty of other creatures to eat without decimating the bullfrogs.

The other bird that preys on the bullfrogs are the Fiscal Shrike. I am never happy when I see the babies hanging onto the barbed wire. I guess at the end of the day we are all just part of the great web of life.

I thought I would share this picture of a Pin-tailed Whydah and his harem. He is extremely busy at the dam protecting his patch and arguing with the other birds. It amazes me that he actually has time to eat.

The Sacred Ibis and Yellow-billed Duck were unlikely friends that spent some time together at the dam.

The dam is looking pretty amazing with all the rain we have had with lush growth and a huge amount of water. It is such a joy to go there everyday and just soak up the peace. It is even beautiful on the way to the dam to see the grasses arching gracefully and glistening like diamonds with the droplets of rain.

We have had so much rain that my little dam for the silt trap could not cope with the water and it overflowed all over the place. We raised the wall, and I am really excited to report that it is working perfectly.

The amount of silt trapped by the bags is nothing short of incredible. We have to change the grass in the bags every 2 weeks. This encourages me to continue with building another one or two of these silt traps to help keep our dam clean and the ecosystem intact.

With all the rain the fungi have also been amazing. Jeff took these lovely pictures of various mushrooms.

Unfortunately, they are so difficult to identify that I haven’t had much luck, but I thought you would enjoy the pictures anyway.

I love the bracket fungi – I love watching them breaking down old wood and tree stumps and watch them gently mouldering away. It is a perfect example of just how important fungi are to the health of our world.

The grassland, as usual, is looking terrific. You should really make some time to take a walk there sometime when you visit. It is certainly my magic place.

I wanted to share this picture of the new piece of grassland we are starting to rehabilitate. The difference between where the cows graze and the part we are rehabilitating is marked.

The time of the wildflowers in the grassland is passing and the time of the grasses is now starting.

The flowers, seeds and colours of the grasses is something to behold. I think we don’t take enough time to just observe. The Themeda triandra (Red Grass) is looking particularly beautiful as are the Eragrostis gummiflua (Gum Grass)

Even though their time is fading there are still beautiful wildflowers to be seen. The pretty cerise flower in the picture is Chironia purpurescens (Dwarf chironia), always a joy to see.

The bright yellow flowers of Senecio inornatus are standing well above the grasses and are not getting shaded out as the smaller flowers are. Magical! I just love the grasslands.

I want to share a few more grassland plants with you even though they don’t occur here at Random Harvest. I hope this gives you an appreciation of just how rich and diverse our grasslands are and how much they are in need of protecting.

This beautiful, spiky, plant (remember roses are also spiky and people love them) is Berkheya purpurea and it just keeps on flowering.

I am not sure where I found this gorgeous, almost navy blue, Agapanthus inapertus (Drooping Agapanthus), unfortunately it only gives me a few seeds at a time as I think the pollinator is missing from Random Harvest.

Much to my delight 2 White Agapanthus inapertus popped up in mother plants. I had forgotten I had them. I am hoping to be able to get some seed from them this year. Both of these Agapanthus are plants of the grasslands.

Other gorgeous denizens of the grasslands are Xerophyta viscosa (Small Black Stick Lily) Haemanthus humilis (Rabbits Ears) which grows in the rocky outcrops in the grasslands where they are protected from fire.

The beautiful Crinum bulbispermum (Orange River Lily) will grow equally well in or out of the water so is very versatile.

I had planted this Erythrina humeana (Dwarf Coral Tree) under the Belhambra that fell. What a blessing it turned out to be as with a little more sun it is covered in flowers. Which the Sunbirds are enjoying.

I am amazed at the number of plants and flowers I have been able to share with you this month. I am always teasing Jeffrey that he thinks this is a bird nursery not a plant nursery, but he has outdone himself this month with the number of plant pictures he has taken.

The final plant I want to share with you is this beautiful Delosperma scabripes a pretty succulent with glistening magenta flowers that bloom almost all year round.

We had another gorgeous heifer calf born this month. Always a reminder of the miracle of life.

The herb and veggie garden is very productive and supplying lots of lettuce and fresh produce to the tea garden.

We are always happy to welcome even the smallest of customer here at Random Harvest, here Sydney is seen helping him.

I feel so lucky to live here at Random Harvest and wanted to share the view I see from my window every day. I wonder how many people are this lucky.

I wish you much joy and happiness this year and may you enjoy your indigenous garden with all the life that lives in the little ecosystem you have created as much as I enjoy mine.

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

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