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Random Harvest Newsletter - February 2020

Posted On: 01 February 2020

Introduction

January has been a beautiful month of enjoying verdant growth in the nursery and seeing people get excited about revamping tired gardens and finding something perfect for that special spot in the garden.

We hope February brings as much joy to all of you!

No public holidays in February to let you know about, but it is World Wetlands Day on Sunday the 2nd of February. The theme for 2020 is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”. We celebrate the rich diversity of species that Random Harvest is home to, especially in and around our precious dam.

IN THE NURSERY

Our customers can now sit and wait in the shade on a bench in the front of the nursery, thanks to the hard work of my staff.

We have moved the bench that was a bit sun-drenched further back, rearranged plants and hopefully made it more comfortable for our customers.

We have also created a new inspirational display of trees suitable for creating an avenue. We have also included plants suited to growing under the trees.

The thousands of baby bullfrogs have left the dam and dispersed far and wide.

We even had this tiny visitor in retail.

I know that they are an important food source for many other creatures, but I do hope many reach adulthood.

Our wholesale nursery has been very busy. New orders have already been dispatched to Namibia and countrywide.

We are also delighted to see so many of our plants used to create a living wall garden, designed and implemented by Freelance ecologist Tania Anderson. Read more about this Living green wall for biodiversity in our latest news item.

IN THE TEA GARDEN

We are often asked for vegetarian options in our tea garden.

Here is a popular option you could select – Avo open sandwich with salad, carrot cake and an iced tea…yum!

IN THE SHOP

Book of the month: Wild Flowers of The Magaliesberg by Kevin Gill & Andry Engelbrecht, priced at R250.00. This easy to use book serves as an introduction to over 500 wild flower species of the Magaliesburg. It is an invaluable beginner’s guide. Some of the lovely shop items in stock this month are:

  • Sewing Kit R 75.00

  • Creatures - Snail small R 35.00, Hedgehog baby R 75.00, Meerkat baby R 120, Meerkat Male & female R 345.00, Meerkat sunbathing R 210.00 Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover) R275.00, Tortoise baby R 51.50

  • Heritage products: Naturally Fermented Vinaigrette Strawberry & Mint R 49.50, Fermented Vinaigrette Mulberry R 49.50, Infused Oil Chili R 49.50 & Infused Oil Lemon R49.50

EVENTS

MONTHLY COFFEE MORNINGS

Where: Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery
When: 10h30 to 12h00
Cost: Free of charge – we just ask you to please support the nursery and / or the tea garden while you are here.
What to Bring: A notebook, your questions on the topic, and a friend

Date: Wednesday, 5th February 2019
Topic: Shade Gardening
Sit at the beautiful new shade garden that we planted and Jonathan will take you through the design and plants. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the installation and placing of plants.

Date: Wednesday 4th March 2019
Topic: Bee Friendly Garden Ideas - A discussion with Clem Smith
Join us for an informative discussion on the many ways in which one can encourage bees to get the most out of your garden…and as many reasons that bees are good for your garden.

BIRD WALK/S

Saturday, 15 February 2020 – led by Lance Robinson
Start time: 6h30 for 7h00 sharp.
Cost: R165 per person, including a great buffet breakfast after the walk
Bookings: (Essential) Contact Paul on 082 553 0598 or Ashley on [email protected] - Bookings cannot be made on our website – please use the details listed here.

Take a walk through the various vegetation patches of Random Harvest. The diversity of habitat increases the chances of seeing some of the 167 bird species spotted here. A bird list is supplied.
Note: Binoculars are important and greatly enhance your enjoyment of this activity – please don’t forget as we do not have spare.
Good walking shoes and a hat are advised for the bird walk.

*Buffet breakfast includes: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Pork or Beef Sausage, Sliced Tomato, Creamed Mushroom, Muesli with milk or yogurt, Fruit salad, Cocktail Rolls, Butter and Jams, Tea, Coffee, Water Jugs, Orange Juice.

GARDENING COURSES WITH LINDSAY GRAY

Friday, 14 February & Friday, 13 March, 2020 - Domestic Gardener Training (08h30 – 15h45)
Give your gardener the gift of knowledge! This course is designed for the 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.

Saturday 15 February 2020 - Essential Steps to Designing and Planting your Garden (08h30 – 16h00)
Design is the first step in landscaping. You cannot landscape (or plant) a garden until you have designed it and, for that, you need to understand (a) how to organise spaces so that they meet your needs or that of your client, and (b) the environment to which it is attached. This course covers key elements of garden design, plant selection and creating habitats for wildlife. Our beautiful nursery also enables Lindsay and her students to explore all the attributes of indigenous plants. Refreshments & lunch included.

Saturday, 14 March 2020 – Essential Steps to Maintaining your Garden (08h30 – 13h00)
This morning workshop will provide you with all the basics of horticulture that every gardener requires to create and maintain a low-maintenance garden that is still a haven for wildlife. We cover the making of compost and its uses, mulching, understanding fertilisers, pruning, lawncare, pests and their role in the garden. You will feel super-confident after attending this workshop.

Contact Lindsay on 082 44 99 237 or email [email protected] for further details and to book your place.

COTTAGES

Yellowwood Cottage is our featured accommodation of the month.

I love the old-world charm that this little gem exudes, without compromising comfort.

It’s tucked away with a private little garden that has just been revamped.

It’s so much lighter and brighter now and ready for you to come and stay!

To read more, have a look at our website details on Yellowwood Cottage, and follow the link should you wish to book.

Planning a wedding? – Our 4-star cottages make a great place to stay and explore the area for wedding venues. We have many wedding guests staying with us, and are also a great venue for bridal showers and post wedding family and friend breakfasts. For more information or to book, please contact our hospitality team on 072 562 3396 or [email protected]


IN THE GARDEN – monthly gardening tips

Paving – When laying paving in your garden, consider weeds and / or grass that may come up between the paving stones. Particularly if you are not filling in with cement between the stones, consider using a geotextile such as biddum to prevent the growth of plants from beneath the pathway. If using pebbles between paving stones, the biddum will also act as a permeable barrier between the soil and the pebbles.

When pebbles need to be collected for cleaning or accessing the ground below, the biddum makes it easy to collect pebbles without scraping up the ground below them as well. It also keeps them from sinking into the ground, so that one uses less pebbles to cover the same surface area as when no biddum is used.

Protecting plants from heat stress – As we enter (historically) the hottest month of the year, protect your garden plants from the damaging intensity of heat as much as possible.

Water early in the morning and late in the evening only, mulch the ground well to keep plant roots cool and retain moisture in the soil.

Move pot plants around if possible, to keep them from over-heating in their pots. One can even put an umbrella over them or shade cloth in the heat of the day.

PLANTS LOOKING GOOD

Eriocephalus africanus – Wild Rosemary (E) is a rewarding plant to have in the garden on every level.

It’s very hardy, attractive, fast-growing, evergreen, responds well to light pruning, aromatic, and can be used as a culinary herb.

Masses of little white, daisy-like flowers that have purple centres adorn the plant throughout autumn and winter.

Ruspolia hypocrateroformis (Red Ruspolia) is not readily found at nurseries.

It is a fairly hardy, evergreen, scrambling woody shrub with bright green foliage.

The spikes of nectar rich, showy pink to red flowers with darker spots on their lower petals are borne throughout summer and into autumn.

Diascia hybrid white. – white has a habit of making the garden sparkle – and Diascia hybrid white does just this.

A gorgeous, happy, neat little groundcover or bedding plant, it is gorgeous in a container or as a border plant.

Plant in full sun but mulch around plants to keep roots cool.

Noltea africana - Soap Dogwood (E) is a very hardy, evergreen, extremely fast-growing, small- to medium-sized decorative tree that is ideal for the smaller garden but should be kept as a single stem.

A good tree to plant for a quick screen. Grows well in sun and semi-shade.

Dovyalis longispina - Natal Apricot (E) attracts birds to the garden.

The delicious, edible fruit is a beautiful pale red with white spots (they look a lot like strawberries).

Male and female flowers are on separate plants, therefore only female plants will bear fruit.

The long, thin spines make this an ideal plant for a security hedge, but it is also an attractive garden plant.

It is a hardy and evergreen to semi-deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree.

Barleria greenii - Wild Bush Petunia (E) is a beautiful, very hardy, semi- to fully-deciduous, spiny, small shrub that has masses of large, gorgeous, pink, Petunia-like flowers in summer.

They are sweet- smelling at night, which indicates that they are moth pollinated.

They have copious nectar that attracts Carpenter Bees and other insects to the garden by day.

A beautiful garden plant that is stunning when planted in groups.

Rare in cultivation.

Cassinopsis ilicifolia – Lemon Thorn (E) is a great plant to attract fruit-eating birds, and it is the host plant of the beautiful Vivid Slug Moth.

It is a hardy, evergreen, decorative, large shrub that makes a good security barrier and can be clipped into a beautiful formal hedge.

Use as a container plant or use it simply as a specimen plant.

Plectranthus chimanimaniensis - Chimanimani Spur Flower (E) is a useful, hardy, evergreen shrublet for the garden or a container.

It has small, semi-succulent, soft-textured and aromatic, dark-green leaves.

From spring to early winter, it bears abundant, long spikes of delicate pink flowers.

Attracts butterflies and tiny insects to the garden

PLANTS ON SPECIAL THIS MONTH – LESS 15%

Helichrysum splendidum – Cape Gold (E) is a gorgeous riot of yellow in the garden when in flower, and provides soft grey foliage colour to contrast beautifully with other darker or brighter green plants nearby.

This is a winner for large areas such as school grounds, parking lots and expanses of flower beds.

Duvernoia aconitiflora - Lemon Pistol Bush (E) is a lovely shrub for semi-shade as well as sunny areas of the garden.

Being hardy, evergreen, fast-growing with fairly large, glossy, light green leaves, it forms a great screen.

Flowers produce nectar that attracts Sunbirds and butterflies.

Chlorophytum comosum ‘vittatum’ - Variegated Hen-and-chickens (E) is an ideal plant for dry, shady areas under trees, where their variegated light green and white leaves light up the dark undergrowth.

Use this plant in a mixed bed or to create beautiful hanging baskets.

The ‘Kuikens’ (tufts of leaves at the ends of flowering stems that grow into new plants) are gorgeous in flower arrangements.

ON THE FARM

I have some really sad news – the huge oak tree in the garden is dying.

I have spent a fortune on fungicides in the last 3 months to try and save it with no luck.

Eventually I got Jeff to climb into the tree and check and much to my despair there is a hole in the centre that is rotting and the tree is dying and I can do nothing about it. It is going to leave a huge hole in the garden and my heart.

But on to happier things. The grassland has been absolutely phenomenal this year. Amazingly it still looks like a flower-filled meadow and I am having the time of my life spending time exploring it each day.

The Chironia purpurescens are in full bloom. Their magenta flowers advertising themselves in amongst the grasses. I remember going from nursery to nursery to try and find a Pelargonium luridum(Stalk Flowered Pelargonium) with no luck.

Now there are colonies of them in the grassland that appeared naturally when I started managing and looking after the grassland properly.

I am not the only one enjoying the grassland this year. My customers and their children have spent hours just enjoying the grassland.

I think all our efforts weeding and maintaining the grassland have really paid off this year.

After the wonderful rain we had, carpets of these tiny mushrooms appeared on all the termite nests. They are Termitomyces microcarpus which are said to be edible although you would have to pick hundreds just for a mouthful. I must say I haven’t been tempted to try them as I am very wary of mushrooms especially as I don’t have much knowledge of them.

I also love watching the bracket fungus slowly breaking down the old dead wood and helping to provide food and habitat to so many diverse creatures.

The dam has been offering hours of viewing pleasure as well. After the rain the dam filled. We had cleaned out some of the Papyrus and as the water rose so the Papyrus started floating all over the dam at the whim of each passing puff of wind.

You never know where it will be next time you visit the dam. With it go the Moorhen and Weavers nests. I am sure this is quite confusing for the birds.

The bullfrog tadpoles have grown at an astounding rate and they have left the dam. It was sad but we found quite a few pinned onto the barbed wire fence where the Fiscal Shrike had decided to create a larder.

It is amazing just how far and wide they have dispersed.

It is also interesting to see just how many creatures prey on the bullfrogs. We were lucky enough to see, what I think is a Brown House Snake, making a meal of one of them by constricting.

The Red-knobbed Coot were back on the dam and I was hoping that they would breed there again. But after about 2 weeks they just pushed off. I was not happy with them.

I shouldn’t complain as there are hundreds of Southern Red Bishop and other weavers and many different birds breeding. When you sit next to the dam there are so many birds calling it is confusing as to who is who.

The Yellow-billed Duck are frequent visitors at the moment as well.

It is always exciting when we see the Three-banded plover visiting the dam. These tiny birds stalk along the mudflats hunting for insects and bobbing their bottoms up and down.

The Buddleja saligna (False Olive) in the grassland have been in full bloom and along with the beautiful flowers come the insects.

Added to this is the number of insects in the grasses – the bottom of the farm is just humming with life.

There are so many bugs in amongst the grasses it just emphasises how important the creation of habitat is to biodiversity. Remember you can always create habitat, even in the smallest corner of your garden.

The flowers are visited by a whole host of butterflies, beetles and wasps and there are tiny crab spiders hiding amongst the blooms perfectly camouflaged to catch a passing insect.

The raised vegetable beds above the retail nursery have become a happy hunting ground for skinks.

They have found the poles are perfect spots to sun themselves with the convenient dense bushy plants close by to hide in if danger threatens.

To add to this, the herbs and veggies are constantly visited by insects so they have a convenient larder.

Some of the plants have been looking amazing. Every time we have 10mm of rain the Acacia karroo (Sweetthorn) burst into flower. To observe the life that flocks to them is endlessly fascinating.

The Pterocarpus rotundifolius (Round-leafed Teak) have also been in full flower. These flowers literally glow in dim light and the perfume is absolutely divine.

The Teclea gerrardii (Zulu Cherry-orange) is in full seed. One thing you have to have in this business is patience. This is a beautiful tree and in all the years I have only managed to get my hands on one of them. I planted it and now it is fruiting for me.

We harvested the fruit and they are now germinating by the hundreds. My patience has been well rewarded. Hopefully in the not too distant future I will be able to offer them for sale.

Another plant I am slowly but surely increasing the stock is the rare and beautiful Scadoxus pole-evansii (Inyanga Fireball).

The Cyphostemma juttae (Wild Grape) are also in full fruit. Just ready to be collected and planted by us. This is always such an exciting time.

I just had to share this picture of the Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) in my garden. This has to be one of my favourite flowers.

We have had a new addition of a beautiful heifer calf to add to our dairy herd.

I thought I would share these two pictures of sunrise and moonrise which I see from my kitchen window. The full moon was just so huge, bright and beautiful.

How privileged am I to live with such beauty around me? I am not sure what I have done to deserve to live in this beautiful place.

Hope to see you soon.

Sincerely

Linda

Cell 079-872-8975
email [email protected]

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