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Random Harvest Newsletter - July 2022

Posted On: Friday, July 1, 2022

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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

I thought I would share this amazing picture of Random Harvest nursery with you. It was taken by my nephew with his drone and clearly shows the nursery and also the lovely walks you can take through the grassland and down to the dam. You can visit the cows and turkeys and do a little bird watching along the way as well.

IN THE NURSERY

With the onset of the cold snaps, we are regularly having to put our plants ‘to bed’ at night by covering them with frost cover.

The plants are looking amazing, and we are hoping to keep it that way, so they are looking beautiful when everyone gets the planting bug again in spring.

Our retail staff have been on an advanced garden design course with Bruce Stead so will be well equipped to help you with ideas for your own garden and how to solve specific problems. This picture was taken when Bruce took them to visit Freedom Park in Pretoria.

We are also excitedly looking forward to the delivery of our new truck. This will enable us to do larger deliveries far and wide.

We are also building (my favourite pastime is building) a new platform to house the grass plugs we grow in the sun so that when they are planted out they are strong and ready to take off.

Click on this link if you would like a birds eye view of the nursery 

DELIVERY

We are getting more and more orders from our customers who live too far away to visit the nursery. It has been working well using courier services for smaller plants and those, like succulents, that can be sent bare root.

For larger plants and orders we can deliver with our bakkie. We only need about a week’s notice, so that we can consolidate deliveries and thus reduce costs.

If you would like to make use of this service please email [email protected] or [email protected] or call 082-553-0598 with your requests and we will do our best to fulfil you needs at a reasonable price.

WOMEN’s DAY – 9th August.

Spoil the special woman in your life with a visit to Random Harvest on Tuesday the 9th August. Spring will be in the air which I, for one, am looking forward to.

There will be a gift awaiting the women who visit us on this day.

You could spoil them with a delicious High Tea or Picnic in the garden.

Booking for the High Tea or Picnic is essential.
Please contact Lindelani on [email protected]
Tel. No. 082-553-0598 or 066 587 3143

FOOD PARCELS

The lucky winners of the draw for the R1000.00 voucher each from people who kindly bought a R100.00 voucher for a food parcel when they visited the nursery are:

Monica Seuffert and Wendy Oven

A donation towards our food parcel drive would be greatly appreciated. I realise times are quite tough but as tough as they are for us there are many desperate people who have lost jobs and are in need, so it is imperative to keep this initiative going in order to be able to assist the less fortunate.

I would like to assure you that every cent donated is spent on food and distributed only to the truly needy. I take great care to ensure that any donation you make is used wisely.

Any small amount will be appreciated. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the people who have been generously donating on a monthly basis.

The banking details are: Random Harvest Nursery, FNB 51441129818 Cheque account: code 25 07 41, Reference: Food Parcels.

EVENTS

BIRD WALKS

One of the most enjoyable mornings you can spend in and around Johannesburg – at any time of the year – is on one of our popular bird walks.

The Malachite Kingfishers are loving the dam and we are now spotting 2 of them regularly.

Dates: Sat 9 July @ 07:30 for 08:00 start with Lance Robinson
Sat 13 August @ 07:30 for 08:00 start with André Marx
Sat 10 September @ 07:00 for 07:30 start with Lance Robinson

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 6th July
Time: 10h30
Topic: Planning for spring
Start thinking about gardening and planning for spring. Bring your questions along if you need some suggestions on what to plant where.

Date: Wednesday 3rd August
Time: 10h30

Topic: Cycads
Vaughan Wesson, a passionate cycad grower, has kindly agreed to give us a talk on cycads – the many wonderful species and how to grow and care for them.

This is a talk that should not be missed.

PRACTICAL DOMESTIC GARDENERS TRAINING

We have sent most of our staff on this course which has helped enormously with their knowledge and confidence. All the basics are covered and gives a person a good grounding.

The next 2 dates are perfectly timed to boost your gardener’s skills and thereby help you to prepare your garden for spring.

Our new lady, Sarie, joined in with the last course and enjoyed it tremendously as she is starting her new garden.

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

DATES: Friday 22nd July 2022 and 9th September
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.

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

COTTAGES

Spend a few nights with us and witness the beauty and the awe of nature in the winter countryside. Get closer to the grassland and notice how beautiful the veld is in winter instead of the brown you see as you rush by in your car.

With nature and birdsong all around you, you will feel like you are stepping into an enchanted world away from the stresses of life.

There are many activities to enjoy on the farm at this time of year, the sunrises and sunsets from the vantage point of the dam are magnificent. Birds are much easier to watch and identify on your walks (collect your list of birds identified on the farm from the office to help you with ID).

Create cherished memories you can enjoy forever here at Random Harvest.

Take a virtual tour of the farm, starting from the entrance to our charming space.

TEA GARDEN

We have set out some tables in the sun where you can sit and enjoy watching the birds at the feeding table while you enjoy your own tasty meal. With a bit of luck, you can look up and see the Fairy Flycatcher. This will be the last few weeks where you will have the opportunity of seeing them before they migrate back to the high mountains of Lesotho.

IN THE SHOP

We have ‘Bio Bags’ in stock – this is a simple inexpensive bio-filter for your ponds and very easy to install. Use a bio-bag and super EM in your pond for an environmentally friendly solution to keeping ponds clear and healthy for all the life in them and the life that uses them.

The gardening gloves we have in stock are soft and comfortable. They will protect your hands as well as keep you warm when gardening in winter. If you are an inveterate gardener, cold doesn’t deter you from your rewarding hobby.

There are also beautiful appliqued pure cotton dishcloths which are both decorative and useful.

We have bird baths in stock. As the surroundings get drier in winter the birds will appreciate the water you offer them.

If you enjoy the coffee in the tea garden, we have packets of it for sale in the shop.

The new stock of the ever popular grey and white pots has arrived – the prices range from as little as R110.00

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Crassula lanuginosa
A compact small, hardy, flat succulent plant with dainty, blue-green leaves covered with fine white hairs, that turn red in full sun although it does grow in semi-shade as well. The delicate flat-topped clusters of white flowers are borne in summer and attract insects. Create beautiful containers and miniature gardens with this plant which looks good all year round. It can also be used in a succulent bed or rock garden.

Crassula pellucida subsp. marginalis
This beautiful, low growing, mounding and creeping succulent has delicate almost lime green leaves with red margins and red petioles. It bears starry flowers which attract insects. It is decorative and makes an excellent ground cover and container plant as well as looking good planted in amongst rocks. It grows in sun or shade making it useful for areas that are sometimes in shade and sometimes in sun.

Acokanthera oppositifolia - Bushman's Poison
Highly ornamental, hardy, evergreen, upright local shrub that can be pruned to make a gorgeous small tree for smaller gardens. It has, dark green, purple or red tinged leaves that have a sharply pointed tip. Clusters of white to pink-tinged, sweetly scented flowers are borne from June to Oct. Then large, plum-coloured berry-like fruits which are relished by birds. This plant is poisonous as are many other commonly used plants.

Phoenix reclinata – Wild Date Palm
Very hardy, evergreen palm with shiny light to dark green, long arching leaves that become spiny close to the stem. The Palm Swift ‘glues’ its nest to the fronds. Showy creamy-white male flowers are borne in spring. The luminous orange-brown fruit are carried on long hanging branches and are edible. This is a clump forming plant that requires a lot of space. It is the host plant to the Palm-tree Night Fighter butterfly.

Pavetta gardeniifolia - Christmas bride's bush
A beautiful hardy small tree or large shrub that occurs locally. It bears massed clusters of sweetly scented creamy-white flowers in mid summer hence the common name. The flowers attract a whole host of birds including sunbirds and insects that feast on the nectar. The black fruits that follow are edible and attract fruit eating birds. Plant in sun or semi shade in well composted soil. It is a little slow growing but very worthwhile.

Zantedeschia aethiopica - White Arum
Probably one of our best known and best loved indigenous flowers. With big, heart-shaped leaves and a flower that has one distinctive large, white, cone-shaped petal and a central column which carries the tiny flowers and the yellow pollen. The flowers are borne all year round and make a beautiful long-lasting cut flower. The flowers develop into a dense mass of small, fleshy fruits that are relished by birds. This popular garden plant looks great in a cottage garden, in and around a pond, or planted en masse under trees. It can tolerate extreme cold and even snow but then goes dormant until the weather warms up. They prefer some shade in a garden bed but if grown in permanent water, it can be planted in the sun.

TREES ON SPECIAL – LESS 10%

This is the final month for the special on trees. Take advantage of this to add wonderful indigenous trees to your garden.
I compiled this show of some of the Trees of Random Harvest and why I love them.

PLANTS ON SPECIAL – Less 15%

Combretum bracteosum - Hiccupnut
This fairly hardy, deciduous scrambler has unusual, dull olive-green leaves, and is a particularly attractive foliage plant. It bears gorgeous, big heads of red flowers from Sept. to Dec. It is a host plant to the Striped Policeman butterfly and a few moth species. Attracts many birds to the garden, especially for nesting opportunities. The Hiccup nut is a good garden subject that can be used for covering banks or walls. Makes a wonderful container plant. Prune the long climbing stems to encourage it to make a dense round bush. Grows in semi-shade, in well-drained soil.

Diascia integerrima ‘Pink’ - Twinspur (E); Pensies (A)
Very hardy, evergreen, bushy, drought resistant, perennial groundcover, with fine, narrow leaves. It bears, in profusion, spikes of pretty, pink flowers, which attract insects to the garden. Perfect as a border, an element of a colourful cottage garden or a grassland garden. It prefers to grow in full sun but will tolerate partial or light shade. Prune regularly after flowering to ensure an extended flowering time.

Aristea ecklonii - Blue Stars
Hardy, evergreen, clump-forming, perennial plant with a corm, from which the leaves arise. The leaves are narrow, strap-like, slightly pleated and carried in a fan. It bears flowering stems of amazing, pale to deep mauve-blue, star-like flowers from Aug. to Mar. A lovely, neat garden plant that attracts Carpenter Bees to the garden. It requires morning sun as the flowers open in succession early in the day and close in the afternoon. It grows best in moist conditions near ponds or well-watered areas.

GARDEN TIP

Now that mid-winter is past, we can start looking forward to warmer, blooming, beautiful, days.

It is important that if you want a beautiful spring and summer garden that you start with the soil. Not preparing soil properly is akin to building a house without foundations.

It is time to weed the garden and check your soil. If it is hard and lumpy you will need to dig in a good amount of compost. If your soil is soft and friable it is only necessary to mulch with about 5cm of compost and allow the natural processes to take the nutrients into the soil.

July is a good time to dig plant beds over. While I don’t advocate digging the soil over as it destroys the structure, it is sometimes necessary to renew the organic material in the soil. This is often the case with the soil under trees as their roots absorb a lot of nutrients.

The addition of Rock Dust to the soil will ensure strong healthy growth as rock dust provides all the minerals and trace elements the plants need. It also strengthens them against pests and diseases.

Remember with Rock Dust you need to use good active compost as it is the micro-organisms you replace in the soil with compost that convert the Rock Dust to a usable form for the plants. Using Rock Dust without active compost is a waste of money as the plants cannot use it.

You can also start shaping your plants with a light pruning. If you live in a very cold area, I suggest leaving the pruning until later in the season as frost becomes nature’s way of pruning.

Once the soil has been prepared, a good layer of mulch will act like a blanket and keep the soil warmer and moister.

If you take the time now your garden will be ready for spring and its multitude of flowers.

ON THE FARM

I am so excited about the wonderful aerial pictures of Random Harvest I just had to share another one with you. This is a picture of the indigenous ‘forest’ we have created here – no wonder we have so many bird species living here.

I was completely amazed at just how many trees we have planted here and very proud of the diversity of species. I think you should visit and just marvel at the beautiful trees.

Some of the plants are totally confused. I was amazed to see this Wild Pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) in flower at this time of year – it is only 2 months early. This is not the only one, a few of the others are in bud as well.

To see a Berkheya purpurea and an Agapanthus blooming in mid-winter is proof that the plants are completely confused.

This is an exciting time of year in the nursery when the Aloes start to bloom.

They are so beautiful, adding amazing colour to the winter garden.

We are not the only ones excited about the Aloes, but the Sunbirds are regularly patrolling them for nectar and pollen as are the bees and other insects.

The other plants adding their beautiful spikes of colour are the Red-hot Pokers (Kniphofia) species. The bees and other insects also appreciate these wonderful flowers.

The long flowering Ribbon Bush (Hypoestes aristata) is a blaze of colour in mid-winter and offers up a bounty of nectar and pollen for both bees and butterflies. It is a time I look forward to in my own garden.

It is amazing to see just how colourful indigenous plants are in the middle of winter. I loved this picture of a bee with full pollen sacs and an Eyed Pansy butterfly using the Gazania flowers. This is what makes an indigenous garden so special.

Not only are the flowers colourful in winter but the turning leaves make a splash as well. They respond to the cold by drawing their nutrients back from the leaves and breaking down their green, nutrient-forming chlorophyll. On the Toad Tree (Tabernaemontana elegans) this process produces the most beautiful patterns on the leaves before they turn a golden yellow and then drop.

We have a new baby calf. The first heifer born for a while. She is as beautiful as her mother.

The birds are also taking advantage of the cows moving through the grass and disturbing the insects that the birds feed on as this Western Cattle Egret did.

The fish-eating birds are having a field day down at the dam. Although there are not huge numbers of birds at the dam Jeff and I manage to see something interesting going on there on a daily basis.

This Purple Heron was sitting on a branch in the middle of the dam checking out the feeding opportunities.

The Southern Red Bishops have lost their brilliant scarlet summer colour and are now just another little brown bird. I love this picture of him hanging on to two twigs.

The other cute bird we see in the grassland is the Zitting Cisticola. He is so tiny and is constantly flitting around in amongst the grasses. He seldom perches for long enough to get a picture which Ronald did brilliantly with this one.

The Black-collared Barbet are starting to nest, and this family was scouting an old nesting hole. I am always happy to see them.

I love watching the fungi on old stumps do their job of returning nutrients back into the soil. The shapes and textures are always fascinating.

We are busy cleaning up and preparing our vegetable garden for spring. I have taken chances and planted some of the summer vegetable seeds. They should germinate and if they do, they will give us a head start on next seasons harvest.

I am looking forward to warmer days and burgeoning growth.

Keep warm, hope to see you at Random Harvest.

Sincerely

Linda

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