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Random Harvest Newsletter - March 2019

Posted On: 01 March 2019

Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,

Have you been loving the rain as much as we have?  What a blessing after the dry start to the year.  Jeffrey and I couldn’t resist visiting the dam at least 3 times a day.  It is double the size it was and just beautiful.  

 

This is the time of the year that I am so pleased that I spent the money on building furrows to carry the run-off water off the roofs and from the nursery to the dam.  They sounded like a river with the amount of water they caught.

What we do

I have been spoilt with so many long-standing customers, so I often forget that this newsletter finds itself in front of readers all over the world – with some that don’t know about the full spectrum of business at Random Harvest. You can follow the links to find out more about our business, but in summary, we are a retail and wholesale indigenous plant nursery, with a tea garden situated within our retail nursery. 

This came about when the nursery was still in its infancy, so that hungry customers waiting whilst their orders were being pulled, could have a cup of tea, coffee or juice, with a tea time treat. As people returned just for the delicious refreshments, I decided to put in a tea garden, which has grown from strength to strength. 

Our 8 cottages (bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation) are the youngest part of the business, and are extremely popular with those seeking a peaceful, comfy stay out of the bustle of town. Our meeting room is used regularly for interest groups and workshops.

PUBLIC HOLIDAY

We are open on Human Rights Day March 21st.  

Relax under the trees in the Tea Garden and allow the peace of the indigenous plants to seep into your soul while enjoying a delicious meal, scone or cake baked in our kitchen.  


IN THE NURSERY

Displays: The grasses are looking so amazing I decided to do a grassland garden in the courtyard. Work on this has begun, and should be finished by the end of the month.

EVENTS

BIRD WALKS

Date: Saturday March 9, 2019 (with Lia Steen)
Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 sharp.
Cost: R155 per person, including a great buffet breakfast (see website for details) after the walk
To Book: (Essential) Call reception on 082 553 0598 or email [email protected]

A walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. The diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing a wide variety of the 167 species of bird spotted here.
Binoculars, good walking shoes, a hat and plenty of sunscreen are advised for the bird walk.

COFFEE MORNINGS

Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Cost: No charge – please support our nursery and / or tea garden when you visit.
Date: Wednesday March 6 – Indigenous Shrubs in the Garden

Chat over coffee about some useful indigenous shrubs for the garden. Shrubs are one of the most useful groups of plants in landscaping. They fill difficult spaces, screen, protect, demarcate borders with hedges and generally complete a garden. They can also be pruned up to make beautiful little trees for townhouse and retirement home gardens.

Date: Wednesday April 3 – Water plants and waterside planting
Join us for coffee and some inspiration, planning tips and design ideas on adding water plants and waterside planting to a watery area of the garden.

Lindsay Gray Courses

To reserve your place, contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected]/ or www.schoolofgardendesign.com

March 8 Friday (08h30 – 15h45)
Domestic Gardener Training

Give your gardener the gift of knowledge! This course is designed for any gardener at any skills level who works in the domestic, landscaping and commercial environment, to enhance their gardening skills with emphasis on sustainable gardening practice. Most languages are catered for on the day. A truly uplifting course! Breakfast and lunch included.

March 9 Saturday - (08h30 – 13h00)- (08h30 – 15h45)
Easy Steps to Growing your own Edibles

In this morning workshop, Lindsay will discuss and illustrate the important aspects of growing one’s own fruit, vegetables and herbs. The workshop content includes soil nutrition, feeding, pruning and healthy, organic growing practice. Students will also experiment with sowing different seed of their choice on the workshop. A fun morning for all!

The Autumn Garden Show 5 to 7 April

Random Harvest will be at the Autumn Garden Show, promoting gardening with indigenous plants, with one of our beautiful, inspirational stands. Come and say hi when you visit. You can find out more about the show by clicking on the image.


TEA GARDEN

A New seating area has been added to the tea garden. Visitors with little people that enjoy the sandpit can now relax and enjoy their tea garden food whilst keeping a close eye on their children in the sandpit. This area also provides a lovely view over the retail nursery.


SHOP

New and interesting goodies in our shop include:
- Bread boards made from indigenous wood, that has had an electrical charge through it which burns interesting shapes. The burnt area is then filled with resin and is food safe.
- Wooden saucers made from Rosewood. Perfect size for a coffee mug and a yummy nibble on the side.


Kigelia creams produced by Hazel’s Harvest. Until recently I was unaware of the amazing healing properties of Kigelia africana. Extract from the sausage-like fruit are added to skin creams, and reported to assist with healing of sunspots and solar keratosis, eczema and other skin conditions as well as being an amazing hand and body cream. I am really happy to be able to offer them in our shop. Join me in using this wonder product.


Herb Afrique: I would like to remind you that we carry this range of natural products. I use them on a daily basis and would not dream of using any other deodorant or sunscreen as well as their Resque creams.

A new addition to the Gift cards that we carry are these delightful birds by Louise Dowie.


COTTAGES

We have three easy access, wheelchair friendly cottages Wild Olive, Bushwillow and Sagewood

Remember that even although each cottage is private and secluded, we do have free Wi-Fi available in all of our cottages.


PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Hypoxis species ‘small’ is a clump forming evergreen bulbous species. The strap like glossy green leaves spread to about 30cm wide and reach 15cm high. This species does well in both sun or light shade and requires even watering throughout the year to ensure lush growth.

Copious starry bright yellow flowers are presented above the foliage during the warmer months. Deadhead the plants regularly to encourage more buds to develop.This plant makes a beautiful border plant. It grows well in a container and would be a lovely addition to a grassy rockery bed.

Rotheca [=Clerodendrum] myricoides - Blue Cat’s Whiskers can be pruned and kept as a fairly compact shrub, or left to grow with gracefully arching branches, bearing beautiful purple and blue flowers.

Plant in sun or semi-shade, in well composted soil. Water regularly.

Eragrostis superba - Saw-tooth Love Grass – has spikelets of beautiful, large, golden, heart-shaped seeds from May to September, making it an attractive garden subject.

It likes a fair amount of water, and will grow in just about any soil type.

Aristida congesta subsp. barbicollis – Spreading Three Awn is a hardy but delicate looking tufted grass with long, white hairs where the leaf meets the stem. It bears delicate, twisted spikelets at the tips of branches from Oct. to May. It can be used to stabilise soil or cover bare patches to protect the soil. It is pretty planted amongst flowering plants in a meadow garden or in a grassland garden. Plant in well-drained soil, and don’t over-water.

Hypoxis hemerocallidea - African Potato is a very hardy, deciduous plant that flowers from very early spring to midsummer.

The spikes of bright-yellow, star-shaped flowers make a grassland planting look so cheerful.

Plant in a rockery or grassland garden, in well-drained, compost-rich soil. Requires full sun or semi-shade.

Miscanthus capensis - Daba Grass is a tall grass that looks beautiful moving in the lightest of breezes in the garden.A versatile plant, it can be used as a backdrop to a garden bed or as a screening plant in narrow beds.It is effective planted as a single, sculptural, feature plant in a garden.Plant into window-box type containers where they can be used as a screen on a balcony.Plant in sun or semi-shade in damp or normal garden conditions.

Kiggelaria africana - Wild Peach is a very hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, fast-growing, medium- to large-sized tree which has very variable leaves. Small, greenish-yellow flowers are borne from Aug. to Jan.

The sexes are on separate trees. It is the host plant to the Garden Acraea butterfly. A must for a butterfly garden. Plant in sun or semi-shade


PLANTS ON SPECIAL

Our two plants on special this month are beautiful for an indigenous garden, as well as larger properties and game farmers. Buddleja auriculata provides great shade and cover for shy animals, and Cenchrus ciliaris, apart from providing seed for birds, is a palatable grass for game species.

Buddleja auriculata - Eared Sagewood - Attract birds and butterflies to the garden with this large shrub. It has a weeping habit and beautiful black-green glossy leaves that are white on the underside.

A profusion of large sprays of fragrant lilac and white flowers with orange centres are borne in July and August.

Cenchrus ciliaris - Foxtail Buffalo Grass

A large, perennial, tufted, drought tolerant grass with light-green leaves.

Dense spikes of purple to golden flowers (Aug. to Apr.), followed by pale-golden spikes of seeds, which make this an attractive garden plant.


GARDENING TIPS

Have you noticed how well plants grow with rainwater rather than tap water? If you don’t have a rainwater tank you can still collect rainwater for your plants. Use an old bin or drum, or any container to collect and store the water. It’s best not to store it for too long. Cover the container with mesh to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it.

ON THE FARM

The people who accompanied Jeff and I on the grassland walk seemed to have a great time even though the weather was not the best. I love sharing my love of the grassland with others who are also interested in the environment. I think we managed to convey the magic of this threatened biome.

We had a grassland specialist visit the grassland and help us identify some grasses. He was blown away and told us we had one of the few pieces of stable Egoli Granite Grassland. My staff and I were so proud that our hard work has paid off. We are also reaping the benefits of being able to visit this beautiful space.

The birds in the grassland are just as interesting as the plants. I really don’t know how Jeff managed to take this picture of the tiny Zitting Cisticola. They fly fast and erratically. You can see how tiny he is in comparison to the grass stems.

The Cape Longclaw was singing his heart out in amongst the grasses and Vernonias. A beautiful moment.

We were surprised to see this Southern Red Bishop female feasting on Melinus nerviglumis. I never thought this was such a palatable grass.

The grassland was even more magical when the Brown-veined White Butterflies were migrating across it in their thousands. If you would like to learn more about this migration these are two useful links:

Butterfly Migration in South Africa

White Butterfly Migration

To my great joy there has been an abundance of wildflowers and insects in the grassland. I never realised how the grassland would react after some good rains.

We recorded 2 new species of wild flower. The pink Graderia subintegra (Wild Penstemon), and Hibiscus microcarpus (Wiid Hibiscus). We normally see one or two of the delicate Wahlenbergia caledonica but this year they have been a few big patches of them. Seeing all these wildflowers is really exciting.

This section of the farm never ceases to amaze and teach me just how fortunate we are to live on such a miraculous planet.

I thought I would share the story of how the waterlilies prevent self-pollination with you.

When the waterlily first opens the centre is open with a pool of liquid in the middle and the stigma (female part of the flower) is ready to be pollinated.

The stamens (male parts of the flower) look ripe to fool the insects but are not ready to pollinate a flower.

They have a slippery surface and when the unwary insect perches on the stamen to collect pollen it slips down into the pool of water.

The flower then closes and the insect drowns. The pollen on the insect, that has been collected from other flowers is washed off and the lily is pollinated.

When the flower opens the next day the flower is fertilised and the pollen is ripe for collection. The centre is closed and the insects can safely collect pollen carrying it to other receptive waterlily flowers, and thus ensuring cross pollination.

The Red-Knobbed Coot just loved the rain as much as we did. Their chicks are getting very brave foraging around the edges of the dam.

Not only have the Coots, Jeff and I been enjoying the dam but Abby has as well. It is so beautiful when it is full we simply have to visit at least twice a day

I loved this picture of the Red-knobbed Coot crowned with a waterlily flower.

The Malachite Kingfisher is back. Unfortunately, this time, alone. So my hopes for them breeding at the dam were dashed.

After 6 weeks of watching the Terrapins nest and waiting for the babies to emerge we finally gave up. Lo and behold about 2 weeks later we found this hole where they seemed to have hatched from. I can only think it happened at night but we missed it.

Jeff took this picture of Terrapins mating so hopefully we get another chance at watching the life cycle and maybe next time we have better luck.

This pair of White-faced Whistling Ducks hung around the dam and in and out of the reeds and grassland for about 3 weeks. I am ever hopeful and was convinced they were looking to breed at Random Harvest – but no luck. Maybe next year.

One has to be endlessly patient when inviting nature in to live with you.

I loved this gang of Wattled Lapwing who came for a bath and relax while we were at the dam.
There is a lovely video of them enjoying themselves on our Facebook Page (Please like us if you watch and enjoy it.)

The grassland is playing host to many different butterfly species, like this Eyed Pansy, at the moment. Just another reason to stop and watch and wonder at how nature works so perfectly.

I think the late rains have confused this Paradise Flycatcher as it is breeding for the second time this season. She should realise that now is time to fatten up for the long flight north – not spend her energy breeding. On the bright side she and her offspring just may decide to over winter with us here at Random Harvest.

This White-bellied Sunbird female has her head buried deep in an Aloe flower. It makes me anticipate the time of plenty for nectar-feeding birds when the Aloes and Wild Dagga come into flower in autumn and winter.

I loved this picture of the Cape Robin-chat perching below the Papyrus in our sewage recycling area. He certainly finds a host of insects to munch on around the base.

I really don’t know how Jeff managed to get this lovely picture of a Spotted Flycatcher. They are quite cryptic and often in the top of trees. Nevertheless, I was chuffed to see it in such perfect detail. Normally it is just a glimpse in the foliage.

I was surprised that we haven’t seen many mushrooms after the rain. The only one that was in abundance wherever there are termites is this miniscule Termitomyces microcarpus. It is said to be edible but as it is so tiny you would have trouble picking a single mouthful.

The plants are also a little confused with this weather. This Crinum macowanii (River Lily) delighted us with a second blooming of perfect flowers. What a joy.

As usual plants manage to keep a person humble. Just when you think you know something a plant will come out and confound you. The Apodytes dimidiata (White Pear) were in bloom and in the early morning sun they smelt delicious. The bees also thought so and were busily collecting pollen. I thought that scent was attracting the bees as the pollinator.

Guess what! Just as the sun was going down the flowers started emitting the wonderful scent again – leading normally to one conclusion that they could also be pollinated by night flying insects. One thing about plants that I have learned is never to assume too much.

I have known for a long time that it is possible to propagate bulbs by leaf cuttings. I have half-heartedly tried on a few occasions without much luck. The other day I was cleaning out a pot and guess what? This Haemanthus albifloss (White paint brush) leaf had broken off and propagated itself in the pot with these tiny bulbils. This is what I love about working with plants – they always surprise you. Life is never boring around them.

We have been so busy in the nursery this year and the growth has been lush. After checking the other day, I realised how important it is to keep your trees and shrubs in order.

We are now on a mission to prune off some of the extra growth especially where, in some areas, it is blocking paths and we even had to clear the driveway a bit for our guests who visit us.

Luckily we have Timothy who is a dab hand with a small chain saw. He will help to make the job easier.

Enjoy the great weather at this time of year – comfortable and great for gardening.

Here is hoping you see the creatures that you share your garden with and enjoy them as much as I do here on the farm.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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