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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast
As much as I’m sad to see summer slip into autumn and start saying goodbye to lush green plant growth and migrant bird visitors, the change of season brings with it a wonderful new boost of energy.
Cool crisp mornings make it easier to think and be creative, and a sense of order and peace settles over me when things change as they should.
Dates to note over Easter
Please note the following dates that we are open and closed over the Easter Weekend.
CLOSED ON Good Friday: Friday, 19 April and Easter Sunday 21st April
OPEN ON Easter Saturday and Easter Monday, Saturday 20 and Monday 22 April
We will also be open on the 8th May – Voting Day
We have been working on our website for what seems like a very long time, and constantly upgrading it to give a more user-friendly experience. Our webmaster, Brent Wilson of ITM Web Design in Cape Town, has done an amazing job of presenting a visual taste of what we are all about through the website that he has built for us.
You can imagine our delight when he called to say that the Random Harvest Nursery website had won an international award. A heartfelt thank you too, to all our loyal customers that took the time to vote for us through the Facebook link.
IN THE NURSERY
Easter Egg Hunt 2019 - 6th to 22nd April
The Easter Egg Treasure Hunt is, without fail, met with delight by the younger visitors to Random Harvest Nursery and Tea Garden. Bring your kids to the Nursery between Saturday the 6th and Monday 22nd of April, to take part in this fun Eco-activity and claim their Easter treat.
Please ask at reception for assistance when you arrive with children to do the Easter Egg Treasure Hunt.
Grassland Garden Display
Thank you to all that have given such positive feedback about our Grassland Garden to my staff and on Facebook. We are delighted with how it turned out, and hope that it will provide lots of inspiration to landscapers and the lay person alike. We have posted a couple of blogs on grassland gardens that you can access by clicking this Grassland Garden link.
IN THE SHOP
Agrisil is a liquid silica supplement that boosts plants’ defences against stress. It is particularly effective in protecting plants from the damaging effects of excessive cold, frost and drought. It is available in our gift shop, with application instructions.
Coffee for sale – After so many requests to sell the coffee we serve in the tea garden, I now have it available in the shop. It can be purchased in a 250g bag of either ground or whole beans.
MONTHLY COFFEE MORNINGS
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
Cost: No charge – please support our nursery and / or tea garden when you visit.
Date: Wednesday April 4th – 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.
Date: Wednesday May 1st – Alien Invasive Plants
A talk about the havoc these plants cause in nature, let alone our gardens, how to identify them and how to eradicate or manage them.
Date: Saturday 13th APRIL
Time: 09h30 – 11h30 (Refreshment served after the workshop)
Cost: R95.00 per person
Booking is essential.Please contact us on 082 553 0598 or [email protected]
Join us for a workshop on propagation of indigenous plants using a variety of methods. Tea or coffee will be served on arrival and refreshment after the workshop is included.
Date: Saturday April 13, 2019 (with Andre Marx)
Start time: 06h30 for 07h00 sharp.
Date: Saturday 4 May, 2019 (With Lia Steen)
Start time: 07h00 for 07h30 sharp
Booking is essential. Please contact us on 082 553 0598 or [email protected]
Details for both Bird Walks:
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.
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.
IN THE TEA GARDEN
Tea garden specials – For the month of April from Monday to Friday we are giving away a free potted herb with each meal ordered. This special offer is only valid on meals, and excludes tea, coffee and cakes.
Over the next year we will feature one of our cottages in each newsletter.
WILD OLIVE is our cottage of the month. This Semi self-catering accommodation has a lovely garden with a large amount of bird life. The charming patio has the perfect balance of shrubbery to keep it private and a beautiful garden view onto lawns that stretch out in front of the cottage.
You can even catch a glimpse of pastures beyond the garden, giving you a true sense of being in the countryside. Comfortable and cosy, it can also be joined to Sweet Thorn Cottage with an interleading door, to make it a family stay accommodation that sleeps four.
It has its own braai facility, which, with prior arrangement, our staff will light for you. This cottage is also suitable for those with limited mobility and is wheelchair accessible. To read more and view pictures of Wild Olive Cottage, please visit our website
As with all our cottages, the following attractive points are worth noting:
Plants looking good
Thunbergia alata- Black-eyed Susan (E) is a cheerful, twining climber with attractive, bright-green, heart-shaped leaves and masses of orange, trumpet-shaped flowers with a dark, purple-brown tube.
Both pink and yellow forms of this plant are available.
Use it as a groundcover, to cover a fence, climb a trellis, to tumble over a terraced wall or out of a hanging basket.
Grows best in semi-shade.
Crassula swaziensis is a hardy, semi prostrate succulent perennial plant with rosettes of grey-green, round leaves.
These turn a beautiful coppery brown in cold, dry winters.
The flat-topped inflorescences of tiny white flowers attract a whole host of tiny insects.
Plant in well-drained soil in a rockery in the shade of other plants and grasses.
It makes a lovely container plant.
GARDENING TIP Keep your succulent plants a little dry. On the left is a well-watered plant and on the right is one grown in dry conditions. The beauty of succulents is that they are truly beautiful when kept a little drier rather than well-watered. They tend to break easily if over watered.
Arctotis arctoides is a delightful, hardy, mat forming groundcover that is useful for planting between larger stepping stones and rocks, covering banks or large flat areas. The wavy-margined leaves are matt green with white felted undersides.
It bears sunshine-yellow, daisy-like flowers (Sep to Mar), and grows best in full sun in a well-watered position.It attracts numerous species of butterfly to its cheerful flowers.
Aloe cooperi- Cooper’s Aloe is a popular Aloe with gardeners and landscapers alike, as it is a strikingly attractive, very hardy, stemless Aloe with white-spotted leaves, and flowers early in the year (Dec. to Mar).
A beautiful addition to a grassland or marsh area, it thrives in a variety of soil types.
An excellent nectar plant for Sunbirds and White-eyes too. Plant in full sun or semi-shade.
Asparagus laricinus - Bushveld Asparagus (E) is a very hardy, evergreen, shrubby Asparagus with fine, feathery foliage and silvery, zigzag branchlets.
It has a myriad of tiny, white, nectar-rich flowers in spring and summer that are fragrant and attract insects and birds.
It is a very useful plant for a security hedge as it is extremely spiny. It grows in sun, semi-shade or shade
Jasminum stenolobum- Wild Jasmine (E) is a beautiful plant should have pride of place in the garden.
Plant in sun or semi-shade, and does well in a container. It is hardy, evergreen, and has glossy, dark-green leaves.
Masses of large, fragrant, white, star-shaped flowers with a pink underside are borne from Aug. to Jan.
Nuxia floribunda - Forest Elder (E) grows well in a container, and is also a lovely tree with which to create a small forested area in the garden.
It is hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, neat and attractive. Its pale grey, smooth bark contrasts beautifully with the glossy, dark-green leaves that turn quite purple in winter.
Huge heads of showy, sweetly-scented, white flowers cover the tree from May to Sept.
PLANTS ON SPECIAL
Dietes grandiflora (Butterfly Iris) needs no introduction – landscapers and gardeners alike are aware of the merits of this wonderfully useful plant. It is very hardy, evergreen, and can be used in sunny, semi-shade or lightly shaded areas of the garden.
I have even seen it grown in quite dark areas of the garden – but it doesn’t seem to flower in this situation. The beautiful Iris-like white flowers with mauve and yellow markings appear in spring and summer, particularly in response to rain. Use as a different form and texture in a mixed flower bed or very useful mass-planted in large landscapes.
GARDENING TIP – Some plants such as Dietes species flower in succession along the flowering stem.If you prune the flowering stem you are in fact cutting off the seasons flowers.Wait until the seed pods have formed along the stem and then prune them.This ensures a long flowering period.
Our second plant on special is Halleria elliptica (Robust form) (Rock Tree Fuchsia), makes a beautiful show when planted in groups in the garden and is also attractive when planted in containers. Use this plant for a small but neat formal or informal hedge, in a mixed border, as a specimen or screening plant. It is hardy, evergreen, and grows to about 1,5m tall.
The orange tubular flowers are very showy, (Jun. to Feb). and contrast beautifully with the pretty olive-green foliage. Pollinating insects, bees and butterflies are irresistibly attracted to the copious nectar offered by the flowers. Fleshy, orange, juicy fruit follow the flowers and attract birds to the garden. Grows best in semi-shade to light shade.
ON THE FARM
The birds have kept us entranced this month as we have seen all manner of interesting behaviours. This along with the ever changing grassland has given Jeff and I a lot to think about.
I thought that the Malachite Kingfisher was breeding somewhere on the bank of the dam, but we never could find a nest. I was so excited when we saw a juvenile Malachite in the vegetation around the dam. Maybe next year we will find the nest.
Talking of Kingfishers there has been a Pied kingfisher visiting.We seldom see him so it was very exciting to see him hovering above the dam fishing.
The Red-knobbed Coot and their babies seem to have claimed the dam as their own.When the Yellow-billed duck had the temerity to use their dam it resulted in a huge temper tantrum from the coots.
I was hoping the White-faced Whistling Duck would at long last come and breed but was disappointed – I must admit it was late in the season when they came to the dam.Maybe next year, hope springs eternal!
I am happy to say the Squacco Heron is still at the dam.We were lucky enough to see him marching along the water’s edge right out in the open rather than skulking in amongst the reeds.
The elegant Little Egret with his bright yellow feet is becoming a regular visitor.I love watching him hunting along the edge of the dam in the mud flats.
I am not sure what exactly has changed at the dam but we are getting congregations of Hadeda and Sacred Ibis.The Hadedas take off yelling at us when we visit the dam.
The markings on the Thick-knee are absolutely beautiful, they glisten in the sun.
I am happy to report that the numbers of these gentle birds is increasing.
I love seeing them but also love hearing their calls at night.
There are some interesting insects around at the moment.
This beautiful spider web was constructed by the tiniest of spiders. It was amazing. Nature is so wonderful – how this tiny creature created this web is a miracle of nature.
Jeff found this beautiful Common Emperor moth. Unfortunately, it was dead. It had obviously laid its eggs and then passed away.
The host plants of this beautiful moth are Cussonia species and Ekebergia sp.
I lost a Fever Tree in my garden and instead of cutting it down to the ground I left about one and half meters of the trunk standing in my garden.
This has become one giant solitary bee hotel. You can find the holes sealed with all manner of materials.
These beautiful bronze egg casings were also stuck on the stem. I am not sure what hatched out of them, but they were beautiful shining in the sun.
The grassland, as usual, has been giving Jeffrey and I a lot of pleasure. We just love how it changes from day to day.
Amazingly there are still wild flowers visible in amongst the grasses like this gorgeous yellow Berkheya species. People are a little put off by its spiky leaves but planted in amongst grasses they are beautiful and also attract a whole host of insects.
The Vigna vexillata have been amazing this year. They have been flowering with their pretty mauve sweet-pea-like flowers since November. I have never seen them with such long trailing stems before. Here they are twining up one of the bales of grass I have used as erosion control on my red soil.
The Thunbergia gibsonii with their clear bright orange flowers have been flowering profusely this year.
Here they are seen sprawling on the ground like a ground cover. The sea of orange was beautiful but I wouldn’t recommend using it as a ground cover in amongst plants they can climb on as they could land up taking over.
If you have a patch of open ground, you could maybe give it a try.
The things we have to do to protect our fruit and veggies from birds is quite incredible.
Here my mom has made little covers for her tomatoes in the hopes of fooling the birds.They still manage to have a few bites even through the netting.
Jeff had a real giggle the other day. A common House Sparrow stole a length of the bird tape we had put in the trees to protect the fruit. We are sure he was going to use it as nesting material. Unfortunately, Jeff was too slow with his camera. Luckily it seems to be only the House Sparrow who is not afraid of the tape.
We had Japan Africa TV come along and do a clip about the use of indigenous plants in the home.
When they dub it, it is going to be quite weird with me speaking Japanese.
I made such a delicious chopped salad with leaves of the Portulacaria afra (Elephants food). I mixed cubed cucumber, tomato, yellow pepper and onion. Into this I coarsely chopped leaves of the Portulacaria. I dressed it with Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.It was delicious and they were impressed.
We have seen Francolin on the farm over the last few days.
This is a sure sign of autumn, as autumn and winter are the only times we see them.
Finally, I found this inspirational poem and thought I would like to share it with you.
Activities for the winter solstice season
Remember happy childhood memories.
Honour an elder who has passed on.
Walk outdoors and honour the bare trees of the winter season.
Honour the living creatures that survive the winter season because of their own efforts and ingenuity.
Honour the stones whose patience carries them through the cold and dark, without flinching.
Welcome the returning sun, every morning or evening, as the days lengthen.
Look for the first signs of spring growth, and celebrate every chance you get.
Bring into your home, as decoration in food ingredients, edible plants that have stayed green and alive all winter. They have absorbed the energy of the earth and rain and wind and sun. Now you can absorb that energy as well, with gratitude.
Excerpts taken or adapted from Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthew
Enjoy the changing of the seasons. Hope to see you at the nursery soon.
email [email protected]
For directions please go to our website www.randomharvest.co.za : or call 082-553-0598
Hours of business 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Sundays
Cottages 072-562-3396 : Nursery 082-553-0598
Directions from the N1
Directions from the N14
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