Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
Wow! This has been a magnificent spring.
The trees have been bursting with new life.
The Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear) have been particularly beautiful and just covered in blossoms as you can see from this picture.
Who said anything about cherry blossom festivals, the Wild Pear blossoms are just as beautiful and longer lasting.
The other thing I can’t believe it has been a year since our birthday celebrations – time flies when you are having fun.
I hope you had a few ml of rain to settle the dust, we had 4ml for which I was very grateful.
Your special spring welcome to Random Harvest is the Jasminum multipartitum (Starry Wild Jasmine) and the Carissa bispinosa (Forest Num-Num). Their sweet fragrance is wafting through the nursery – wonderful.
In The Nursery
It feels like yesterday that I was writing the previous newsletter, but this month it is early as I wanted to let you know about the bird walks.
Andre has kindly agreed to do two bird walks in October.
The dates are 1 Oct and 29 Oct 6h30 for 7h00
Cost per person R125.00 which includes either a Sunrise breakfast (full English) or a Kick Start which is a generous health breakfast.
The Brown Hooded Kingfishers have been very vocal so I am sure it is one of the birds you will see on the walk.
Remember to book early as these walks are very popular and now is a wonderful time to see birds.
The workshops by Mike and Jonathan on germinating seeds and propagating plants by cuttings were exceptionally popular and we had to turn a lot of very interested gardeners away.
Jonathan and Mike have kindly agreed to do another talk each this month for those of you who didn’t manage to book a place.
Jonathan will do the seed planting on 15th October and Mike will do the cutting workshop on the 22nd October.
Book early so as not to be disappointed again.
The workshops will be held from 10h30 – 12h30
Cost: R85 per person including light refreshments
Bring your grandparents on Sunday October, 2nd and spoil them with a delicious tea. We are doing a special selection of small tarts to tickle your taste buds without overdoing it. The special will be an apple crumble, fruit tart and a savoury spinach and feta quiche. This will cost R30.00 per person excluding drinks.
You will be happy to know we have finally managed to organise Wifi in the nursery. If you need to use the internet please ask for the password at reception.
Highveld Bulb Society Sale 22nd October
The Highveld Bulb Society will be selling their home grown bulbs here at Random Harvest.
The object is to promote the society and hopefully to raise some funds for them.
It is a good opportunity to acquire bulbs that are not often found in cultivation. They will be selling Bulb Seeds and ex-open ground and container grown bulbs.
Domestic Gardeners Course
Remember Lindsay Gray’s domestic gardener’s course on October 14th.
Your gardener will go away from this course with a lot more confidence and knowledge.
Tea and lunch are provided
Time: 8h00 to 16h30
Introduction to Garden Design
On October 15th and 16th Lindsay will be running her Introduction to garden design. This will take you through the basics of designing a garden and how to put it down on paper
To find out more information or to book, please contact Lindsay Gray, on 082 44 99 237 or email her at [email protected] or check her website www.schoolofgardendesign.com
There is an interesting blog on our website on how to condition your lawn to get it looking green and lush again.
Seven Steps on How to get a Beautiful Lawn this Spring
Plants Looking Good
I am spoiled for choice at this time of year to share the plants that are looking amazing.
Cotula sericea - Silky Buttons (E); Knoppies (A)
This beautiful, hardy, flat growing groundcover tolerates dry conditions and can be planted in among your succulents.
The pretty flowers on long stems look like little yellow mushrooms.
It flowers on and off almost all year round. It is mat forming and easy to maintain. A really cheerful little plant.
Pelargonium Hybrid ‘Trevor’
This hardy, drought resistant shrublet has beautiful, crinkly leaves that add texture to the garden.
It bears gorgeous dark magenta pink flowers almost all year round.
Plant in full sun or half day shade and, importantly, plant them in well-drained soil.
Coddia rudis - Small Boneapple (E)
What a beautifully shaped and great size this shrub is. It grows from 1 to 3m and has a beautiful rigid but graceful shape.
Best of all it grows in sun or shade. The flowers are like little bells hanging from the branches.
These then become little greenish-gold fruits that the birds love. Use for screening, covering embankments, in bush clumps and as a bonsai subject
Diospyros whyteana - Bladder-Nut (E)
This small tree or large shrub is arguably one of our most beautiful plants with its glossy mirror-like dark green leaves and beautiful silvery bark.
It is a little slow growing so some patience is required.
It bears clusters of fragrant small bell-like flowers and large fruits that the birds relish.
Male and female plants on separate plants.
It makes an exceptionally attractive hedge, lovely bonsai and container plant.
Scadoxus puniceus (magnificus) -
Paint Brush (E); Poeierkwas (A)
This robust form of Scadoxus is from Natal and is much larger than our local one.
It is very hardy and sends it flowering stem with a big, red powder puff flower up in early spring. These are followed by bright red berries.
It is beautiful planted in shade or semi shade in among grasses or as a container plant. They are also lovely mass planted.
On The Farm
The farm is ablaze with flowers and new tender green leaves of every shade of green that you can imagine.
At this time of year the various species of Coral Trees (Erythrina sp.) are looking magnificent.
Some of the Acacias (I refuse to use the new names and synonyms are quite acceptable. If the laws of taxonomy were followed the name Acacia belongs to us and not the Australians) are looking spectacular.
I was observing an Acacia mellifera which had hundreds of bees visiting it and started thinking about names in particular the name of the honey bee which is Apis melllifera.
“Mellifera” means honey and the Acacia obviously has lots of nectar for the bees to collect.
I was amazed at how appropriate the name is.
Learning about plants and their associations with the creatures around them is endlessly fascinating.
The Acacia xanthophloea (Fever Tree) have fresh new leaves.
I will never tire of seeing just how beautiful they look against the beautiful blue sky.
Imagine being this lucky that one is able to look out from your office and see these dramatic trees.
I really am privileged.
Jeff took this picture of the Acacia hebeclada (Candle thorn) in our barrier just before it burst into flower.
I loved the picture of the hook thorns.
Woe betide anyone trying to climb through this tree.
The first Acacia to bloom in early spring is Acacia robusta (Splendid Thorn).
They are just covered in creay-white puffball flowers.
The leaves then emerge and I think the emerald colour of the new leaves so early in the season leaves you hankering after warmer weather and hopefully rain and is in any case a sight to behold.
The other species of tree that are looking gorgeous are the figs. In particular our own local fig Ficus ingens (Red leaved Rock Fig).
When you drive towards Broederstroom and it looks as if the rocks are on fire it is the leaves of the Red Leaved Rock fig. They are truly magnificent at this time of the year.
Ficus sur (Broom Cluster Fig) is also starting to shoot and to bear fruit.
The birds go crazy in this tree when the fruit ripens.
Please remember if you want to plant Figs they have aggressive roots and are not to be planted near walls and paving.
Having said this they make amazing container plants and you could grow them like a big bonsai.
When you talk of figs you need to speak of birds in the same breath as the fruit of the figs is irresistible to fruit eating birds like this Black Collared Barbet in a Ficus burtt-davyi (Scrambling Fig).
Speaking of birds they have been going crazy. The garden is full of bird calls and busyness. This is definitely one of the better times to come on a bird walk or to do some bird watching at Random Harvest.
It is so great to be woken up by the dawn chorus in the morning.
They are also loving the irrigation in the nursery and Jeff got these lovely pictures of an Amethyst Sunbird and Cape White Eye enjoying a cooling bath under the sprinklers.
Jeff has struggled to get good pictures of the White Eyes but has managed now while the trees have only a few leaves.
Another bird that has been difficult to get a good picture of is the Cape Robin Chat.
Jeff managed to get this gorgeous picture of him while he was hunting for worms.
I am so happy to see that the Robins and Thrushes are back in big numbers since my Mom confined her chickens to their own place.
They were in direct competition with the Robins and Thrushes and the population had dwindled.
All I can say is a big Thank You Mom.
We also saw this Kurrichane Thrush which we haven’t seen for some time.
There are also a number of Fiscal Flycatchers on the farm. The paler female is so dainty you couldn’t mistake her for anything but a female.
They are truly rewarding to observe and are really busy bouncing around in among the flowers on the trees hunting for insects.
It looks as if it is time for the Moorhen on the dam to start thinking of breeding again even though their last chicks now grown-up are still with them.
We got this picture of the Moorhen peeping out from the Papyrus which is their favourite breeding place
The Cape Glossy Starling is also obviously thinking about nest building with his beak full of feathers.
Flocks of the Common Waxbills have been feasting on seeds of a mix of LM grass and weeds. They are really such delightful little birds.
One of the cheekiest and cutest of the little birds is the Bar Throated Apalis. They are always pecking away at my window in the office and mirrors of the cars in the parking area.
It is always exciting when the Grey Hornbill visit the feeding station. He looked quite wet, so I can only think he was enjoying the sprinklers as well.
Everything is waking up to spring, Bunnies and Butterflies included. How cute is this baby hare.
There have been a few Citrus Swallowtails emerging from their Pupae. They are so beautiful when newly hatched and sparkly.
The frogs have been very vocal as well. At night the sound from my Moms pond is deafening. Not that it disturbs me in any way I just think they are calling the rain and serenading me. I love it.
This Guttural Toad is in our pond in the nursery. He really has a deep croak for a call – also music to my ears.
On the farm the geese have hatched their babies and the Turkey is sitting on eggs. This will be the first time for a long time that we will have baby turkeys.
Talking of things bursting with life.
Our seeds are starting to germinate.
Even after 26 years this never fails to excite me.
I love visiting my new babies every day.
I am so lucky to have Jonathan doing this for me as he is just as excited as I am when the seeds germinate.
From this picture you can see Jonathan has the same heart as me.
Here he is lying under a Hermannia stricta on a recent field trip he and Mike went on in Namaqualand.
Talk about plant mad!
I wanted to share a few more plant pictures with you. This is Sterculia murex (Lowveld Chestnut). The flowers are like pixies hats which of course sends my imagination racing.
The Greyia sutherlandii (Natal Bottlebrush) are in full flower and providing lots of food for our bees.
Jeffrey took this amazing picture of ants that we have never seen here before. Unfortunately I missed this event.
Mike wrote to a friend of his, Peter Slingsby who is an ant specialist to help us to identify them.
This is his reply:
“The 'termites' in your pic are most interesting. They're not termites, they are Red driver ants (Dorylus helvolus), which are eyeless and completely blind (like many termites) and are better known for their huge, harmless males that fly into lights at night (often called 'sausage flies').
But what are they doing? They seem to be attacking something extremely vigorously, either pulling it into their nest or pulling it out - definition not good enough to see what it is. They are vicious little things that attack in swarms as you can see. Related to the so-called 'army ants' from various myths and legends.”
I have been asked to add a picture of Jeffrey and thought you would like to see just how long Jeff and I have been working together.
This is a picture of him when he came to work at Random Harvest and next to it is a picture of him now.
Lots of water under the bridge. No wonder we look at the world through the same eyes. I often think we were hatched from the same egg.
Finally I have a huge competition between Mike and Jeffrey as Mike grew this magnificent Helichrysum ecklonis, but, he only managed to grow one.
Jeff threatened that we were going to share it with our customers so you can all give Mike a hard time until he has propagated enough to sell.
Enjoy your gardening and here’s hoping for rain sooner rather than later.
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