Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
Well I don’t know where spring went, but we seem to have rocketed into summer. All we need is the rain! The Rain Bird (Burchell’s Coucal) has been calling incessantly, so perhaps we can expect our rains just a little earlier than last year.
I can at least live in hope! The other birds are joining in too, and the dawn chorus definitely gets me out of bed with a smile and a song in my heart these mornings.
Every month I am amazed at what we pack into the short time between newsletters, and can’t wait to share it with my fellow indigenous enthusiasts…hope you enjoy the read!
Wednesday 4th October is the date for our next coffee morning. Join us for a great cup of coffee (or tea) and a question and answer session on your indigenous gardening queries.
Bring your questions, a notebook and a friend. I look forward to seeing you all again at 10.30.
In The Nursery
This is a magical time of year in the nursery, but an extremely busy one. Not only do all the beautiful plants start waking up to the fact that it’s flowering and growing season, but so do our beautiful customers. We cannot keep the nursery full enough of the gorgeous plants that you take home with you.
THANK YOU for keeping us going, and filling your gardens with plants that not only look great but sustain the busy garden creatures too. Here are some irresistible finds for this month.
Plants looking good
Ochna natalita - Showy Plane (E)
This beautiful small tree is ideal for today’s tiny gardens. The flowers, as you can see, are amazing in spring. The flowers themselves only last for about 2 weeks but after the petals fall off the calyx remains and turns bright red. In the middle are 3 or 4 black seeds. These adorn the trees for at least another 6 weeks. An added bonus is that the birds relish the seeds.
They are beautiful planted quite close together to create a tiny forest.
Who can resist?
Cotula sericea - Silky Buttons (E)
The pretty, button-like flowers look amazingly like showy mushrooms on delicate stalks standing well above the ferny leaves.
This plant has a long flowering period and can be planted in sun or partial shade.
Not only are the flowers beautiful but they also attract a whole host of tiny insects.
A really beautiful, plant that bears masses of delicate flowers that are almost cerise with deep red markings.
There are flowers year round on this very hardy shrublet. The beautiful incised leaves are another lovely feature.
Felicia filifolia - Fine-Leaved Felicia (E)
An extremely hardy, drought resistant small shrub with bright green, fine, needle-like leaves. In spring it bears masses of pink flowers that are some years so abundant in some years that you cannot see any leaves. It does bear some flowers on and off during the rest of the summer season
Polygala myrtifolia ‘Riviersonderend’ - September Bush (E)
This s a beautiful dwarf form of the much-loved September bush. It only grows up to 1 meter tall and has needle-like leaves. It bears beautiful magenta flowers in spring, summer and autumn. A beautiful shrub for a small garden.
Hypericum revolutum - Curry Bush (E); Kerriebos (A)
This moisture loving shrub bears masses of beautiful yellow flowers in profusion from spring to autumn with a few flowers the rest of the year. The golden flowers contrast beautifully with the bright green leaves. Prune lightly after the flush of flowers to keep in shape.
Some other plants that are looking great for your garden.
These are some bright and cheerful, brightly coloured plants to make you smile every time you walk in your garden.
You may have already seen the vertical wall as you walk into the retail nursery.
I have been amazed at how well it works, as so many dry out rapidly, or the plants just won’t flourish in them.
Well, as you can see these plants look extremely happy.
The wall materials are sold per square meter, and it is really cost effective compared to many vertical wall products (which are not nearly as effective as this one).
You can see that this one was designed by a gardener and plants person.
Rock Dust and Lipids
I know I have mentioned it a few times, but feel that I must tell you again, how delighted I am to have discovered Rock Dust and Lipids to condition the soil.
The plants here at Random Harvest seem to be so much more resilient to heat, water stress and disease, thanks to us treating the soil with these products. Both products are available from our shop.
Booklets available from our shop
“Invader Guide” by Carol Knoll, for Random Harvest Nursery
I am really grateful to Carol Knoll for writing this home-owner’s manual of the most common invaders and how to control them. She is incredibly knowledgeable and has generously shared her experience with us. This is a resource that no home-owner should be without. At a cost of just R40.00 it contains a wealth of knowledge and many pictures.
“Indigenous Plant Guide” by Linda De Luca
This includes all indigenous plant species grown (both past and present) at Random Harvest Nursery. A short description and planting advice are included for each species, and it has made me fall in love with my plants all over again! This document contains written descriptions only, and does not include illustrations or photos of the plants. For photos of the plants, please visit our Plant Catalogue on the Random Harvest Nursery website (www.randomharvest.co.za).
The guide will be available from the book section of our shop, and retails for R125.00.
Please note that we are able to package and post these booklets, as well as other items from our shop. Please contact us on 082 553 0598 or [email protected] should you wish to make use of this option.
New Pots in Stock
We have some lovely new pots in stock. Great for container gardening or adding a feature somewhere in the garden.
I love the look of gardens that both wood and rock have been added to in an aesthetically pleasing way. Wood, in particular, creates wonderful habitat for garden creatures. I have used it to great effect in my grassland here at Random Harvest.
I was delighted to come across this decorative wood that is lovely and gnarled. It is from a tree / shrub species (Dichrostachys cinerea) that grows vigorously, even becoming an invader in some areas. It is available from our retail nursery, in various sizes.
A reminder that dogs are no longer permitted at Random Harvest Nursery, and the only exception to this rule will be guide dogs for the blind.
I am sorry it has to be this way for those that have been visiting with their well-behaved pets to the nursery, but there are just too many people with problem dogs.
I would like to remind you that we only take bookings for special events, high tea or if you would like to be seated in the garden behind the office. This gives us the opportunity to prepare properly and our best service to you.
We have had some super special events – garden clubs, baby showers, kitchen teas and church groups.
We have been so busy that our little cameo gardens are taking longer than expected to put together. When you visit us, you will see that the wooden circle area is under construction. We should be done by the end of the month or first week in October.
Watch our Facebook page and we’ll let you know when they are complete. There will be five gardens to give you inspiration for tiny areas, or to use as a start point of creativity for a much larger area. We hope you enjoy the gardens once they are complete.
We have added a tree in a container to the arid garden, as summer just gets too hot in this little area. The species used was Acacia caffra (Common Hook Thorn), as it is extremely drought hardy, is deciduous to let winter sun into the garden, but provides valuable light shade in summer.
This example of a garden adapted for dry times will be up until the end of November, and then we will be replacing it with yet another garden to give you inspiration.
Gardening Courses By Lindsay Gray
Domestic Gardeners Training
Starting time: 8h30
Date: 14 October
The course includes notes, breakfast and lunch and attendance certificate.
Introduction to Garden Design
Starting time: 08h30
Date: 15 & 16 October
The courses include notes, and lunch and attendance certificate.
Bookings: Contact Lindsay for bookings or further information on Mobile: +27 82 44 99 237 Email: [email protected]
Bulb Society - Bulb & indigenous Plant Sale
Starting time: 8.30 - Date: Saturday, 28 October, 2017
‘Propagation of Indigenous Seeds’ workshop by Mike Viviers and Jonathan Taylor
Starting time: 10h30
Date: 21st October, 2017
Cost: R120.00 per person including tea and cake.
Booking essential: Contact either [email protected] or 082 553 0598.
If you are already making plans for family visiting over the Holiday season, but you are stressing as your home is bursting at the seams, please remember our lovely comfortable, peaceful cottages. You are welcome to have a look at them on our website, or pop in and have a look for yourselves.
We have two cottages that have inter leading doors, so can sleep a family of four. Some are wheelchair accessible, and all have self-catering facilities or meals can be ordered and / or eaten at the Nursery’s tea garden.
On The Farm
As you can see from the pictures both my Mom and I have the spring feeling. We both really had fun – my Mom planted her vegetables and I was cleaning out our seedling house.
One of the most beautiful plants in your garden and, I think, are the Clivias, that herald spring.
This year my mother’s yellow Clivias were magnificent.
No wonder Clivias are so widely used in gardens worldwide.
I thought I would share some pictures, which so richly portray the unfolding of spring.
When the small orange berries form it is the birds that are fat and well fed.
The Erythrina latissima (Broad-leaved Coral Tree) looks absolutely magnificent at this time of year.
They are not only a feast for the eyes but for the nectar feeding birds that flock to it.
The Acacia galpinii (Monkey Thorn) in the nursery is in full flower.
All parts of Acacia sp. Are nutritious and all manner of creatures are buzzing around the flowers.
The Southern Bou-bou was singing his heart out in the tree just before the flowers opened.
Almost as if he was celebrating the coming bounty of insects that he will feed on.
The Englerophytum magalismontana (Stem Fruit) has clusters of tiny brown flowers along the stems. These will turn into large round fruits that are attached to the stems. Hopefully this amount of flowers will give us a reasonable amount of delicious fruit this year. Last year it flowered and only gave us about 10 fruits. Jeffrey doesn’t like to share the fruit with anyone – at least he saves the seeds for us to grow.
The Schotia brachypetala (Weeping Boer Bean) outside our conference room is in magnificent full bloom.
The nectar is dripping from the gorgeous scarlet flowers and the birds and insects are feasting.
The weird and wonderful Kigelia africana (Sausage Tree) are full of these long, pendulous sprays of velvety, maroon flowers that overflow with nectar.
They are followed by huge, long sausage-shaped seed pods. This tree makes a wonderful container plant.
This is the tree that taught me never to assume too much about our indigenous plants. Many years ago I went to a talk by Prof. Christo Pienaar.
He saw a Sausage tree in bloom in his friend’s garden in Cape Town and very knowledgeably told his friend that he would never have sausages as the flowers are bat pollinated and the particular bat did not occur in the Cape.
The next time he visited his friend his Mercedes was dented by the sausage that fell onto it. I never forgot that story and always keep it in mind before jumping to conclusion about indigenous plants.
Spring doesn’t feel like spring until the Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear) bears its multitude of pure white flowers.
People always talk about the Cherry blossoms, which are so short-lived you hardly have time to appreciate them.
The Wild Pear flowers adorn the garden for at least 6 weeks and are, in my opinion, much more beautiful. What’s more, they smell wonderful too.
We decided to burn our grassland this year. It is always scary but exciting when we do this.
The big consideration was the beehives. I got the staff to water around the hives so that they didn’t burn. Then I parked my VW microbus close so that the staff could have a safe place if the bees got mad. Luckily the bees took no notice of the fire
I am always very nervous when we burn just in case it runs away from us. I needn’t have worried as Jeffrey planned and executed the burn perfectly.
You look at the blackened, smoky area and think it is destructive, which is the opposite to the truth.
The ash from the burnt grass fertilises the grassland and encourage mass flowering of the beautiful grassland plants.
The amazing thing is how many birds congregate to feast on the insects flying up when the fire approaches. Once it is burned the birds peck around on the ground for any insects that may have been roasted by the fire. I am always fascinated at just how things seem to work to a pattern and nothing is wasted.
The Black-headed Heron took advantage of the shorter grass after we had mowed to search for a meal while the Cape Longclaw took advantage of the area after the burn.
Miraculously in less than 2 weeks, without a drop of water, the veld started to go green and in just another 10 days the wildflowers started appearing.
I think the grassland is going to be bursting with wild flowers this year. We just have to hold thumbs for some rain.
The grassland on the farm is my magical place and I am going there every day to check what is growing and flowering.
Talking of what is flowering, the Acacia robusta in the grassland have been flowering for the past month. The tree is just covered in fragrant white puffball flowers interspersed with emerald green leaves. No wonder the common name is ‘Splendid Thorn’ as the tree is truly splendid at the end of winter.
I wouldn’t be right to send you this newsletter without talking about the birds and other creatures.
The Black-headed Oriole seems to have made his home in the big Aloe marlothii in the nursery.
Very generously giving us great photo opportunities.
The Doves started breeding early and have babies. This one is feeding its child in the basket I put into the Tipuana to encourage the strangler fig to grow.
I am not sure what this Cape Glossy Starling has in its beak but it looks suspiciously like horse manure. I wonder what he is going to do with it?
I was so excited when we saw the first Groundscraper Thrush but he seems to have let all his friends know what a great home Random Harvest is and they have flocked here. I just love their wonderful melodious calls.
This little Sutera was literally humming with Hover Flies. Jeff had to be really patient to get a picture of this one.
The Orange-breasted Bush-shrike is consistently calling on the farm but we haven’t been able to get a picture yet.
I am also happy to report that the frogs and toads are calling all over the farm. How lucky am I to be woken in the morning by the dawn chorus and serenaded to sleep at night by the frogs?
The picture is of a Guttural Toad whose call I love, whilst others think it is just noise. Well, we love him at Random Harvest.
As I let you know in an earlier newsletter, we are using our sewage water for irrigation. I have just had the water test back and it is actually potable water. Not that I would like to drink it but by just using this water for the plants we have cut our water usage by about 18%.
Isn’t it great to be back in the garden? The thing I am waiting for now is the first good rains. The plants are looking great at the moment but they go mad after the rain.
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