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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast,
Wow! Is the end of the year looming? I can't believe 2013 has passed in a flash. What do they say? 'Time flies when you are having fun'.
The best time of day is the very early morning. I have been waking up before the birds and just love to sit on the edge of my bed and hear them warming up for the dawn chorus.
I swim at 5.30am and am convinced that when the Paradise flycatchers call and the bulbul sings sitting in the Erythrina above my head they are saying 'Good Morning Linda', Fanciful!
Night Bird Walk with Andre Marx
Andre has generously agreed to do a night bird walk. We will start at 17h30 and go for a walk just as the birds are settling down.
At about 18h30 to 19h00 sit down to dinner of lasagne (Beef and vegetarian) with a salad and crusty bread followed by a homemade fruit mousse dessert (the mousse is thanks to our French Patisserie classes).
Then go for another walk with a spotlight to see if we can find the owls, other night birds and night creatures.
I think it is going to be a lot of fun and hope we see many interesting things.
Date: Saturday 30th November 2013
Time: 17h00 for 17h30
Cost: R120.00 per person including dinner and drinks
Booking essential as space is limited.
Children's Interactive Garden Walk
There is so much to share with children in the garden and nursery, and this is all about having great fun doing so.
Gift is a natural with the children, and he will take them on a walk which will include looking for insects in the beastie boxes, making mud cakes, looking for life in the compost heap and much more.
Each child will receive their Random Harvest Garden Safari Booklet in which to record their sightings, leaf rubbings etc.
Children of any age are welcome, although if they are younger than 4 we ask that a parent, older sibling or caregiver accompany them.
Date: From 12th December until the 12th January every day except Mondays
Time: 10h30 Cost: Free
(best suited to 5 yrs and up - parents welcome to tag along)
Children's Christmas Gift.
There will be a little gift of a seed bell or seed decoration that can be hung in a tree to feed the birds for Christmas as well as a few sweets for the children. So bring the children along to enjoy the nursery, the garden walk and to collect their Christmas gift.
I was hard-pressed to single out a few plants to talk about, as all the plants are looking awesome at the moment. My staff have also been working really hard to display them beautifully.
Here are some of the plants that are irresistible this month:
Milettia grandis (Umzimbeet) This big tree is truly spectacular when in flower. The spikes of light purple flowers are magnificent. It is quite hardy and I grow them with ease here in the nursery. If you have a larger garden this is a 'must have' tree.
It also grows and flowers well in a container and can be used in a small garden as a container plant. The flowers are followed by attractive velvety rich brown pods.
The Agapanthus are in full flower at the moment and looking great. This plant is used worldwide in landscapes and also make s a great cut flower - pity it only blooms once a year.
We have also put together two different hedge displays - a security hedge as well as a formal hedge. These are a great practical inspiration as they showcase species that are ideal for both plantings, and the free information brochure we have compiled gives great practical advice on planting and maintaining the hedge.
Why spend a fortune on security fencing when you can plant a barrier of thorny plants. You can either prune them into a formal shape or let them go a little wild.
You do need to prune even a natural hedge to keep the thorns low and impenetrable. This only needs to be done once or twice a year. For the smaller garden a more formal shape will take up less space.
A thorny barrier is wildlife friendly and instead of living in what looks like a jail of fences turn your garden into a nature reserve which birds and insects will thank you for.
It took a lot of soul searching to take out the Wildlife garden and turn it into a cottage garden.
I am happy to say it has done little to deter the eager tiny garden creatures from using this spot in the nursery …it just reinforces the principal of planting and gardening with indigenous plants, which means you are not only providing a feast of flowers for your eyes but also space for the creatures that share this planet with us.
This is out of my comfort zone when it comes to gardening but I am thrilled with what we have done and how it is developing.
We are decorating a magnificent Nuxia floribunda as our Christmas tree this year. The theme we have chosen is "Christmas is for the Birds", so all our decorations are a feast for our feathered friends.
I have had some beautiful wire and bead decorations made that will hold the bird food. Judging by the number of visitors to our bird feeding table I am sure it is going to be an ongoing job to keep them full and looking good.
If you would like your Christmas to be for the birds we have had some extra decorations made which you can purchase.
IN THE NURSERY
Pots - we have received stock of the ever-popular terracotta pots from KwaZulu Natal. They are so reasonably priced and look great planted up in a group.
I love the hanging "strawberry pot" that has been supplied.
We have a number of great hanging creepers as well as other plants that would look fabulous in this pot.
Feeding the birds: Our bird feeders this holiday season are truly in keeping with the festive spirit…
They are custom made for us from wire and beads, and I think would make the most stunning gift, as a treat for yourself to even a friend overseas.
Bird baths: My friend Kathy had made some beautiful hand thrown pottery bird baths which could also be used as bird feeders
Gift vouchers: Speaking of gifts for Christmas - why not give a 'green gift' in the form of a gift voucher. Look at this pretty grouping of plants and think that is what your loved one could look at every day in their garden and think of you.
If they only have a small garden they could choose a pot and a pretty plant or a few herbs. Plants are living gifts that give long term joy.
ON THE FARM
Living on Random Harvest is always interesting with the number of creatures that take up residence because of the habitat that has been created with indigenous plants and other features.
The most surprising one is that 3 Bullfrogs have taken up residence in my water purification pond. I have to be doing something right if the water is clean enough for them.
When we heard them croaking Jeffrey and I quickly created a breeding pond for them. We tried to emulate roadside puddles where they often breed.
A friend of mine, Jason, who is very knowledgeable about them advised to plant the grass Leersia hexandra in the pond which we have done. I am living in hopes that they stay on and breed - hold thumbs that I will be writing to you about the baby bullfrogs in the near future.
The indicator species for a healthy environment here on the Highveld are Bullfrogs, Rinkhals snake and Hypoxis and I am happy to say that all 3 of them seem to thrive here. Not only have we now got the Bullfrogs but Bongani saw a huge Rinkhals in the dead tree on the island of the dam.
I am sure it is the same snake that has been there for a few years and was the cause of my water pipes taking a detour around where he was staying. This snake also seems to enjoy swimming and my staff have seen him in the dam a few times. Jeffrey and I have only seen him hunting on the dam wall.
I can still remember how excited I was to see the first Hypoxis hemerocallidea (African Potato) in the grassland. Now there are literally hundreds of them as well as the miniscule Hypoxis argentea and Hypoxis rigidula. We must be doing something right here at Random Harvest.
Jonathan went on a beekeeping course and we put up two hives in the hopes of attracting the bees. Can you imagine my excitement when the bees were investigating the hives within 2 days of the hives going up? They have now taken up residence in one of them and I am hoping to get a second permanent colony in the other one.
Amazing things happen on this farm. Jeff went to take this picture of baby Bulbuls in one of the bags in the nursery.
Not only did the parents get mad, but he was also mobbed by the other birds in the vicinity - mainly Mousebirds. Amazing that they will try and protect a different species. Nature is full of surprises.
The nesting birds can keep you busy especially with the few storms we have had.
This baby Bulbul fell out of its nest.
Meshack saw it and decided he just had to rescue that baby.
The joy on his face when he rescued the tiny bird tells the whole story.
I just love it when my staff, whom I love and value, share in my joy of being close to nature.
The Wattled Plover have babies. The babies are so small and fragile it is a wonder any of them survive.
We are guarding them against my enemy, the Crows, who would just love to make a meal of them.
This is not the best picture but we had to take it from far away so as not to upset them too much.
The birds are so interesting at the moment.
Here is a Hoopoe offering a worm to what he hopes will be his future mate. Sorry about the picture quality it was also far away, but I thought the behaviour was so interesting I had to share it with you.
I also saw a White Bellied Sunbird hopping around on the ground. I found this behaviour so bizarre as in all the years I have been observing nature this is the first time I have seen a sunbird on the ground.
I had to ask Andre what it was about as I thought he may have found a nest of spiders to eat. Andre told me that they collect nesting material on the ground sometimes. Always fascinating.
How would you like to live under a big pink bouquet in the sky? Well I do - Lucky me. This is a picture of the Calodendrum capenes (Cape Chestnut) with my cottage nestling under it and what beautiful flowers it has.
As you can see there is almost a forest around my cottage and always something fascinating going on in the trees.
Not only do I have all this beauty around my house but when I go to swim in the morning the Bauhinia bowkeri (Kei White Bauhina) is in full flower and like a white curtain.
There are a few other interesting plants in the garden.
The very rare Milettia stuhlmannii (Pangapanga) has been in the garden for about 10 years and flowered for the first time and although the tree is quite tall already the show was quite breath-taking.
A grouping that also surprised me was the Gerbera jamesonii (Barberton Daisies) and Anthericum.
I never thought the Barberton Daisies would hold their own as the Anthericum is so vigorous.
Just goes to show you can never assume too much. It works very well and will look great in a grassland garden.
Finally on last Thursday evening I went for a drive to the dam and was very excited to see a Little Egret Fishing. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera for that one.
The next morning early I was there as well and saw this magnificent Purple Heron. There must be lots of food for them to fish out at the moment. I just loved seeing them.
I took all my courage into my own hands and accepted a booking for a garden club for 80 people for Christmas lunch. We had never catered for so many before.
I am pleased to say it went off like clockwork and the ladies asked if Casalinga Restaurant had done the catering. That was a feather in Yolam and Frans' cap.
For my sins we also had a conference on for 21 people so landed up cooking for 100 people. Just goes to show what you can do if you push yourself.
Remember we are now open 7 days a week from 8h00 to 17h00. Please also remember the nursery at Walter Sisulu Gardens no longer has anything to do with Random Harvest.
Hope to see you over December and don't forget the exciting night bird walk coming up on the 30th.
If you are going away please have a great holiday and drive carefully. I wish you all the best for Christmas and may all your dreams come true in 2014.
email [email protected]
For directions please go to our website www.rhn.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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