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Random Harvest Newsletter - May 2022

Posted On: Sunday, May 1, 2022

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

This amazing rainy season has seen the ground here at Random Harvest unable to absorb any more water. It is seeping up through the ground and out from under the grasses. A season like this is wonderful for the boreholes on the Highveld. It has also given us the opportunity to see wonderful sights such as the glistening droplets on the grasses.

As amazing as the rain has been here, my heart goes out to the people in KZN who have lost so much. A reminder of just how powerful nature can be.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

We are open on all the public holidays in April, May and June.

IN THE NURSERY

We haven’t been able to do any planting as we are unable to mix our potting soil. The ground, compost and other components are so soaked that the machine can’t work it. We have used the time to catch up on all the cleaning, weeding, pruning and cutting we have to do.

It is also a busy time for collecting and cleaning seeds in time for next season’s planting.

Indigenous Succulent Display

We have also started a Succulent Display in the Retail nursery. Jeffrey is such a master at gardening with succulents that I have given him a free rein and am sure he will come with a beautiful and inspirational display to help you create your own amazing succulent bed in your garden.

DELIVERY SERVICE AND TELEPHONIC ORDERS

Gardening, whether you are a landscaper or an avid gardener, can sometimes present logistical challenges. We love to see your garden plans and projects come together, and by providing a delivery service we can help this happen.

If you are unable to visit, we can discuss your needs telephonically, and send pictures of the particular plants you need and will deliver to your doorstep. Please contact Jonathan for assistance with this, on 082 553 0598, alternatively email him on [email protected]

MOTHERS DAY 8th MAY AND FATHERS DAY 19th June

Moms and Dads who visit us on these special days will each receive a little gift from us for their gardens. We do like to show our appreciation for their support.

If you would like to spoil your own Moms and Dads bring them along to enjoy time out on this beautiful farm and perhaps a delicious High Tea or Picnic in the Garden.

We look forward to welcoming you.

FOOD PARCELS

I am happy to report that with your generous help we managed to reach our target of distributing 150 full food parcels and 400 ‘Meal in a Bag’ this month. The meal in a bag goes to the people living on the rubbish dump at Toekomsrus – the really desperate. Kind people are cooking the food for them as often as they can get supplies.

I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking the people who have been contributing a monthly amount – I am so grateful for your generosity towards helping the really desperate in the communities around us.

If you are able to help out the banking details are as follows:
Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account:
code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.

EVENTS

BIRD WALKS

Bird walks when the leaves have dropped are interesting, as it is easier to actually see the birds. If we are lucky the Fairy Flycatcher will be back for the winter.

Date: Sat 14 May with Lance Robinson
Time: 07:00 for a 07:30 start

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 MORNINGS

Date: Wednesday 4th May
Topic: Hybrid Aloes
Andy de Wet will be talking about the beautiful and extensive varieties of hybrid Aloes. The result of Andy’s work (over 46 years of experience) is that these hybrids are not only beautiful but also support the birds, bees and other wildlife that visit the garden.

Date: Wednesday 1st June
Topic: Talking all things trees
Winter is always a great time to plant trees and also to see their beautiful architecture. We will talk about what to plant, how to plant and the uses of trees.

PRACTICAL DOMESTIC GARDENERS 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 10th June 2022 and Friday 22nd July 2022
TIME: 8h30 to 15h30

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

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

COTTAGES

Father's Day is the perfect opportunity to let Dad know exactly how special he is and how much you appreciate him. Why not celebrate him by letting him relax out in the Muldersdrift countryside.

A weekend away in one of our cottages with private gardens, attentive service and the most breath-taking grassland on the property is a wonderful way to show Dad how much you love him. We have two cottages that can be combined to sleep four, so you can enjoy the weekend with him… a wonderful option if you are visiting from out of town and would love quality time together.

TEA GARDEN

There are benefits to not being busy during the rainy days, we have had time to experiment in the kitchen.

Frans and Yolam have baked a range of delicious biscuits which are now for sale. The flavours are banana-caramel, rum and raisin, a shortbread with a wonderful texture and a coconut biscuit.

We have also baked muffins filled with a fruity compote made with fruit from our orchard that we preserved.

I hope you enjoy them.

Remember to book for High Tea or a Picnic in the garden and spend a happy day with us.

IN THE SHOP

As winter is on the way it is time to think of feeding the birds in your garden. In summer there is normally an abundance of natural food for them but as it gets colder, I see more and more birds visiting the feeding station in the nursery.

We have stock of the following delicious bird goodies to keep the birds fat and sassy during winter:
Suet pop R41.50
Suet ball R29.50
Suet slab R29.50
Nectar R15.50
Seed bells from R15.50
Bird feeders from R80.00

If you are thinking of going North during winter, we have the 50 Grasses of the Limpopo Valley in stock at R250.00 to help enhance your enjoyment of the veld.

The Braai stands we had made are a hit with our customers and we now have a new stock of them with a few adjustments suggested by our clients. R1 400.00

There is also Frost Cover and Agrisil in stock to help protect your plants from frost this winter.

GARDENING TIP

Winter is a good time to plant trees in your garden. Even though they may not be growing above the ground they are busy growing underground. They will use the time during winter to settle themselves into the soil, sending out their roots and connecting with the microorganisms underground.

In spring they will be ready to start growing as soon as the soil warms up a little. If you plant them in spring, they take about 2 months to settle themselves into their new position and lose the growing time above the ground.

I have written a pamphlet about how to plant trees and care for them

If you visit the nursery, you can collect a printed copy from reception.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD.

Salvia dolomitica - Dolomite sage
This very hardy, evergreen small shrub is good as an herbaceous border, or as a small screening plant. It is also a beautiful subject in a container, with its attractive, grey-green, aromatic leaves and spikes of beautiful pale lilac flowers (borne in spring and summer). They attract bees and other pollinating insects to the garden. Prune back hard after flowering to encourage bushiness. Plant in full sun in well-drained, well-composted soil.
Size: .5 to 1m

Salvia muirii - Wild Sage
A useful garden and container plant for sunny areas, this hardy, evergreen shrublet will grace the gardened space with its light green, almost greyish small leaves and spikes of intense blue flowers with white lips (borne from mid-summer to autumn). When crushed the leaves release a light, medicinal scent, reminiscent of Vicks. It has a persistent rootstock from which it re-sprouts if damaged. The flowers attract butterflies and bees in abundance. This is a long-lived, drought-resistant and virtually pest free plant. Prune regularly to keep in shape and encourage flowering. Size: up to 30cm

Crassula sarcocaulis - Bonsai Crassula
If you’re looking for a great, easy-to-grow bonsai subject then look no further. It is also beautiful planted in amongst rocks or in a container. This hardy, evergreen, erect, succulent shrublet has small, dark- to bright-green, narrow, very succulent leaves and creamy-white flowers that are carried in a round inflorescence almost all year round. The flowers attract a whole host of tiny insects which are the staple diet of lizards and frogs. It grows in sun or semi-shade.
Size: 60 cm

Kraussia floribunda - Rhino-coffee
A versatile large shrub that can be pruned it into a lovely small, glossy-leafed tree, kept as a shrub or even trimmed into an attractive informal hedge. It also makes an attractive container plant. It is a Fairly hardy, evergreen, scrambling shrub or small tree with beautiful dark green, glossy foliage. The profuse clusters of delicate creamy-white, scented flowers are borne from Oct. to Jan. It then bears sweet tasting, edible, purple fruits that the birds love. Butterflies are attracted to the sweet nectar in the flowers. It is also the host of the Pellucid Hawk Moth with its lovely transparent wings. This is an attractive element of a forest garden. Plant in semi-shade or shade in compost rich soil.
Size: 2 to 6m S.A. No. 700.1

Senna petersiana - Monkey pod
A fairly hardy deciduous shrub or small tree with attractive feathery leaves and grey-brown fissured bark. From Feb to April it bears massed spikes of scented, yellow flowers that are carried above the leaves and attract insects and birds to the garden. These are followed by long, hanging, brown, edible pods which also attract birds. A good tree for the smaller garden.
Size: 4 to 6m S.A. No. 21

Plectranthus chimanimaniensis - Chimanimani Spur Flower
Hardy, evergreen shrublet (protect the first winter) with small, semi-succulent, soft-textured and aromatic, dark-green leaves. Strikingly long flower spikes bear many delicate pink flowers, which are borne in such abundance that they ensure that the flower-to-foliage ratio is particularly high. Although mainly in flower from spring to early winter, it appears that this gem is never out of flower. Attracts butterflies and tiny insects to the garden. This is a useful garden and container plant. Prune regularly. Tolerates light frost and drought. Plant it in compost-rich soil in full sun or semi-shade.
Size: up to 80cm

Markhamia zanzibarica - Bellbean
This fairly hardy, small, evergreen Bushveld tree is suitable for small gardens. It has smooth or rough grey bark and compound, glossy, fresh green leaves. The really attractive feature of this small tree is its beautiful, bell-shaped, yellow and deep maroon flowers that are borne in clusters from Sept. to Feb. They are followed by long, twisted pods (40cm) that turn dark brown. This is a significant feature of this tree. It attracts insects to the garden. Plant in well-drained, well-composted soil, in sun or semi-shade.
Size: Up to 6m S.A. No. 677

PLANTS ON SPECIAL - All trees less 10%

In view of the fact that I think this is a great time to plant trees I decided to put all trees on special. This is a great opportunity for you to plant that tree you always loved.

Because of how long trees live they become a big part of our lives and, in my case, like old friends – they just get better and better.

ON THE FARM

This rain may have made business a little difficult but what a blessing it is when I see how beautiful the grassland is and how much it is going to benefit the underground water.

It has also afforded us the opportunity of seeing some beautiful things in nature we don’t usually get to see.

This is why I want to share these pictures of mosses and lichens growing on the wood and rocks. There is even a local fern which I think is Pellaea calomelanos popping up in the garden between the rocks, for the first time – exciting!

The rain has also ensured an abundance of grazing for the cows. They are looking gorgeous, fat and sassy and hopefully because of the good growth of grass they will look just as good at the end of winter. We love our cows and the peaceful ambience they lend to the farm.

This rain has also afforded us the opportunity of observing just how beautiful the grasses are when the drops of water they have trapped start to twinkle in the sun. If there is a slight breeze it is even more enchanting.

I did try to get a video of the twinkling grassland but without much success as the video I took never did the scene justice. I have taken some pictures to share with you and hope you get the beauty that Jeffrey and I have been privileged to see every morning when we drive in the grassland.

Not only have the grasses been twinkling but the webs of the industrious tiny spiders are also a joy to behold. These little creatures are amazing, we had to cut the grass around the dam as it was too thick to walk through, within a day the myriad of spider webs have been woven again.

The orb web spider webs were like glistening lace in the grasslands.

We saw this huge spider squatting in the middle of its web. Astri Leroy identified it for me, and this is what she wrote ‘Yes, it is. It's a black legged golden orb-web spider, Trichonephila fenestrata. It's the time of year for folk to notice them. Earlier they are too small to notice.’

Jeff noticed that its web is actually in 3 layers. I am sure any unsuspecting insect that blunders into it has no chance of escape.

Driving through the grassland on the misty mornings has been a totally new experience and has just added another dimension to this wonderful ecosystem.

We have noticed that the number of insects is much higher than we normally see and there have been some interesting observations. Driving along you would think that this was a white grass seed but as one gets closer you will see that it is actually a well camouflaged caterpillar.

There are many locusts in the grasslands. I loved this group clinging to the grasses. They are so big they could be mistaken for tiny birds.

We have seen Ladybirds, spiders and insect eggs and cocoons throughout the grassland in numbers I have never noticed before. It is humbling to think that we have created a space for them in this increasingly urban environment. Our reward is that Jeff and I spend peaceful time everyday marvelling at the intricacies of nature.

The one insect had drawn the tops of grasses together to create a place to weave their cocoon. What was so amazing was how it looked like it had tied a string around to keep it together. Nature is wonderful.

The birds have also been busy and we have been lucky enough to see some beautiful things. I have uploaded 3 videos for you to watch to the Random Harvest Video Gallery.

One is a Purple Heron fishing, another is a Green Heron Fishing on the edge of the dam and the third gave Jeff and I a hard time – it is the Pin-tailed Whydah displaying.

We tried for 3 weeks to get a video of this tiny bird with a huge ego displaying and at last got lucky, I hope you enjoy the videos. You can watch from the Gallery page or on Youtube.

The most exciting sighting was a juvenile Gabar Goshawk which had caught a dove and was sitting in the huge Acacia galpinii in the nursery enjoying his meal. He took absolutely no notice of the people watching him. Luckily Lance who could identify him, was here at the time.

We also saw this Orange-breasted Waxbill at the dam. How Jeff spotted him I don’t know as he is tiny but gorgeous.

The Guinea Fowl have brought up lots of babies this season and we are lucky to see them as they congregate on the paths in the grassland we have mown, to dry off and warm up in the sun.

They have also been taking advantage of the seeds in the grass we have spread on the compost heaps,

The Terrapin took advantage of his favourite perch on the exposed concrete edge of the dam when the water receded. This was only temporary as it soon started raining and submerged it again.

The Nerines bloomed beautifully with their clouds of flowers this season and we are hoping to have some of these gorgeous bulbs for sale next season. You have to be endlessly patient in this job as it takes time, sometimes years, before you propagate enough plants to be able to sell them.

This time of year, the Plectranthus species are blooming and bring a burst of colour under your trees. They flower better if they get some sunlight especially in the mornings.

The waterlilies are still in bloom and offering a feast for the bees. They also use the waterlily leaves to perch on from which they collect water.

The Aloes are also starting to bloom ready to adorn our gardens and offer nectar and pollen for the insects and the birds, especially the Sunbirds. It is always so great to watch them flitting from flower-to-flower sipping nectar, one of the joys of winter.

The Stapelia gigantea have been in flower with their huge blooms. Just don’t put your nose too close as they are fly pollinated and don’t smell too good to us but are beloved by flies.

The Apodytes dimidiata (White Pear) are in flower and buzzing with bees. The bees mostly visit the most fragrant flowers which happen to be the ones that are touched by the rising sun. I now look forward to the fruit eating birds visiting these trees to gorge on the black and red seeds.

The sky is so beautiful in winter especially the sunrises which I watch every day. This month the moon was also so beautiful so I thought I would share these two beautiful pictures with you which I hope will encourage you to look up.

Keep warm, remember to spend Mother’s day with us.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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