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Dear Indigenous Enthusiast
I feel like I am holding my breath for spring to arrive, I have the same feeling that the plants are doing the same. It won’t be long now before I have to stop inspecting the plants for tiny green leaves as they will be in the full flush of spring.
Domestic gardener course (Beginner)
I had a great response from many people who are interested in sending their gardeners on this course. Lindsay Grey will be running a super 1 day course in September, October and November. The programme is as follows:
08h30 - 10h00 Theory: Making and use of compost/mulch - Understanding and using fertilisers - Lawn Care – Pruning - Necessary tools and their care.
10h00 - 10h30 Breakfast
10h30 - 13h00 Practical: We landscape an entire bed in the grounds, using mainly indigenous plant material. Here they get to practice everything they learnt in the theory section, and more. All instruction is done in Zulu and Lindsay is there all day to guide and assess where the weaknesses/strengths of each candidate lies so that I can report back to the employer after the training.
13h00 - 13h30 Lunch
13h30 - 14h30 Practical: Finish off our project, and then move on to lawn care and pruning
14h30 – 15h30 Candidates change and we then have the presentation of the Certificate of Attendance.
15h45 Day ends
“I have an enthusiastic gardener once again! Sydney really enjoyed the course. He has previously done a gardening course and he found that doing the practical work on your course as well as the manual and the lessons most valuable. I'm thrilled because he now knows why I like things done a certain way, especially compost making!”
The Dates of the courses are Friday 12th September, Friday 24th October and Friday 21st November and the cost will be R620.00 for the day including meals and the notes for both the gardener and the employer.
Childrens holiday program
The succulent program was a great hit with the children so we have decided to extend it so that the children from private schools can also benefit.
Succulents and Sunbirds
We are offering a program teaching children about the succulents, their adaptations to the environment and how the nectar of Aloe flowers in particular provide a valuable food supply for sunbirds in the cold winter months. They will plant a succulent, which they will then take home with them.
The program will run from Wednesday to Sunday of each week from Saturday, 8th August to 9th September.
Time: 10h00 each Wednesday to Sunday
One of the little girls enjoyed it so much she decided to have her birthday party with us. This picture is of Gift teaching the children. They had a real ball as did the parents who didn’t even know the children were here, as they just loved Gift, and spent the whole afternoon with him while the parents relaxed over a delicious high tea.
We have changed the courtyard garden from using succulents to a pretty colourful garden with unusual flowering plants in it. It is looking pretty and I hope will be an inspiration to you.
Plants that are looking good at the moment
Euryops virgineus - Honey Euryops (E), Rivierhaarpuisbos (A)
Very hardy, fast growing, evergreen shrub (up to 2m) that is both drought and wind resistant.
It has attractive, dense, fine bright green leaves and is covered in masses of small, golden-yellow flowers in winter and spring.
The sweetly scented flowers attract insects to the garden.
Plant in full sun and prune back at least once a year after flowering.
This attractive shrub with its rounded shape is ideal for small gardens as it takes readily to pruning.
It makes an attractive hedge.
Make sure it is watered in winter.
Rhigozum obovatum - Yellow Pomegranate, Karoo Gold (E); Geelberggranaat (A)
Hardy, drought resistant twiggy spiny shrub with small blue green leaves. It gets covered in brilliant golden trumpet shaped flowers.
Although the bush is quite dull looking it has an interesting shape and is spectacular when in flower during the summer months.
Plant in very well drained soil in a warm sunny position.
Although it can stand any amount of drought and neglect, it needs to be watered well in winter to achieve its maximum potential. It grows 1 to 3m tall
Ochna serrulata - Small-leaved plane (E); Fynblaarrooihout (A)
This hardy, small, semi-deciduous shrub with glossy, mirror-like leaves that flush red in spring has to be one of my favourite shrubs.
The profuse, bright yellow, scented flowers are borne from Sept. to Dec.
The flowers are short lived but are followed by black fruit on an enlarged red calyx that looks like a flower and persist on the shrub for months.
As with Ochna natalitia this plant deserves pride of place in any garden.
The seeds attract birds to the garden. Grows very well in containers.
Plant in sun or semi-shade.
This shrub goes through so many changes it always adds interest to the garden.
Hermannia saccifera - Komynbossie (A)
This hardy, compact, low, spreading, evergreen, drought resistant groundcover has shiny bright green leaves.
Masses of bright yellow, pendulous, bell-like flowers are borne in early spring and it is hard to beat the wonderful show they make.
This drought hardy plant looks beautiful cascading over walls and rock and is beautiful in a hanging basket.
Works well in terraforce walls as well. Requires full sun and does well in very hot areas. Prune lightly when necessary.
Strelitzia reginae - Crane Flower (E); Kraanvoëlblom (A)
This is probably one of the best known plants in the world.
It is a hardy, evergreen shrub with large, ornamental, banana-like leaves.
The brilliant orange and shimmering peacock-blue flowers have an interesting structure resembling an exotic bird and flower all year round.
There are always sunbirds arguing to be able to make use of the bountiful nectar the flowers offer
On the Highveld or dry regions it grows best in partial shade.
This beautiful shrub makes a stunning accent and container plant.
Croton gratissimus - Lavender Fever Berry (E); Laventelkoorsbessie (A); mufhorola (V); moologa (Tsw); umahlabekufeni (Z)
Hardy, deciduous, small, drought resistant tree with lovely pale grey bark. It has beautiful silvery-green leaves that glint in the sun and have red spots on the undersides.
A few bright orange leaves adorn the crown at most times of the year. The autumn colours are dark yellow.
The beautiful foliage alone make this a worthwhile tree to plant in the garden. The leaves are fragrant when crushed and are used as perfume.
The buds are like drooping strings of beads that open into masses of tiny star-like, yellow flowers which peak from July to Sept., although there are some flowers throughout summer.
This beautiful tree is only rarely available in cultivation.
A few Aloe species are still looking gorgeous. They are the yellow and orange Aloe chabaudii - Chabaud’s Aloe (E), iNhlaba (Z, Sw) and the yellow Aloe vanbalenii - Van Balen’s Aloe (E),) incenalamatshe (Z),
The Mousebirds in particular are having a feast on the nectar offered up by the Aloe vanbalenii.
I just love the way the grey leaves and the orange and yellow flowers of the Aloe chabaudii are shown up by the black pots – a real statement for your home.
New stock of containers
I have managed to get hold of some more beautiful terracotta pots at R350.00.
Cloppers has made these lovely wire and bead plant pot holder and hanging baskets – once again something a little different.
The ladies who visit us on Women’s Day will each receive a gift from us at Random Harvest to help you celebrate this day.
We would also like to spoil everyone who gets the spring fever and are offering a special in the tea garden of Tea or filter coffee with a scone, jam and cream for just R28.50
On 23rd August Andre will be taking another bird walk around the farm looking for some of the 149 bird species that occur here. There is always something exciting to see and a lot to learn from Andre.
Enjoy coffee and homemade biscuits on arrival and a hearty Sunrise breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage, tomato toast, jam and tea or coffee to restore you after the walk.
Time 6.30 for 7.00 and the COST is R100.00 per person.
Booking is essential – Call David ON 082-553-0598
To do in the garden in August
There is so much dramatic change in the garden this month – it is as if things are eventually waking up after what seems to have been quite a cold winter. I have noticed the Clivias pushing up their flowering heads in anticipation of spring.
The light has changed and the days are perceptibly warmer and slightly longer. We automatically want to spend more time outdoors, roll our sleeves up and help deliver our gardens out of the clutches of winter.
This is a good time for pruning of shrubs. Some of the Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush) have been clinging on to their last flowers, but it is time to prune now, as it is with the Plectranthus and many other shrubs That are looking a bit scraggly after winter.
Pruning should be to about knee height for the tall Plectranthus ecklonii. A second pruning can be done as new branches establish themselves in a few months’ time (November) to encourage leggy plants to bush out more. Smaller shrubs like Plectranthus fruticosus “James” and others, as well as Hypoestes aristata can be pruned back to about mid-calf height.
Encourage new growth to form more branches by “pinching off” some of the new leaves from the apical bud (at the tip of the branch) and encouraging auxiliary buds (those at the leaf bases) to grow into branches.
The garden is still very dry at this time of the year, so mulching and composting will help to condition and retain moisture in the soil. It is quite remarkable to see how much moisture is trapped under a layer of mulch.
This is essential for healthy soil, as it makes good living conditions for the soil organisms so vital to keeping our soil healthy.
Compost and mulch special
We have a special on both Random Harvest’s compost and mulch this month – at just R19.50 a bag. This means that you can get ten bags for under R200! What a bargain, when the cost of everything else seems to be relentlessly rising.
On the farm
Can you believe that now we are growing alien invaders at Random Harvest? I bought these seeds from a seed supplier and was soooo! happy as I thought we now had Commiphora harveyi in stock. I had been looking for one of these plants for years.
The seed germinated last year and what with how busy it has been I never looked at the trees properly again until I was told by one of my customers that I was growing Brazilian Pepper Trees.
Imagine my horror when I had to agree with him. Needless to say they all landed up on the compost heap.
The Natal form of Scadoxus punicues (Red Paint Brush) has shot and the flowers opened. This really gorgeous flower is offering up a bounty for the bees. As have the flowers of the Aloes.
I am happy to see the bees so active as we now have colonies in our 2 hives and it is time to start adding super structures to the hives.
I have learnt since having our own hives that the lower half of the box is for the brood chamber and to store food and honey for the bees. When you add a superstructure, that is from where you are able to harvest the honey.
We will have to see if I have the courage to disturb the hive to collect the honey and rob the bees or, as I think will happen, I will just leave them be to enjoy their lives here on Random Harvest.
Our worm farm is working amazingly and is already two thirds full of vermicastings – I am amazed at just how quickly they convert the food scraps and organic material.
My winter job this year has been to look for water leaks. There is an ancient galvanised pipe leaking under one of the cottages.
Looking for this pipe has just confirmed why my staff call me ‘bou en breek’ (build and break’). We have been digging (my poor staff and their backs) and breaking down walls and just plain guessing to find the source of the water.
Even the leak detector people, which cost me a fortune, were unable to help. But at last we have found it and managed to cut it off. What a marathon!
I see the bottom temperature is creeping up to 8°C which is more or less when everything begins to shoot tiny green leaves – I can’t wait. Even so the gardening bug has bitten and I have started refurbishing some of the garden beds. Starting with lots of the lovely compost I have made this year. I will keep you posted on how it is going.
Imagine the surprise of our security guards when they came to report that they had chased a Genet which had killed a chicken and both my mom and I jumped up and made sure they understood that the Genet has first priority. I am so happy they are back as we haven’t seen them for a while.
It is great to wake up in the middle of the night to hear them calling. What a privilege! Surprisingly enough I have also been hearing the Guttaral Toad calling in the night. I thought it may be a little early for them.
The Grey Louries have found the feeding station. What a bunch of greedy guts! We are having to replenish the fruit twice a day.
I must say it is only my pleasure to do it.
This poor little Bulbul flew into a window and was completely dazed. We put him in a Dracaena aletriformis (Dragon Tree) away from prying eyes who may like to make a meal of him.
Luckily he revived completely and flew off as if nothing had happened.
How beautiful is this Citrus Swallowtail butterfly on the Aloe? It is actually amazing just how much life the Aloes support in winter.
It also seems part of a perfect plan that they flower in succession ensuring sufficient nectar to support the bird and insect life in a time of need. This is just why I love nature so much.
I am going to be very cheeky now and ask for a favour. I am involved with an NGO in Zandspruit Informal Settlement and we a starting a project of teaching people income generating skills.
I would like to ask if you have an old sewing machine, interlocking machine or any woodworking machinery that you no longer need or use.
If you would like to sell or donate it any of these items would be greatly appreciated and put to good use. I will happily pay for the machines if they are affordable.
We are intending to form a Co-op so that people who may be unskilled and therefore have felt unemployable are able to earn an income. It is a future plan to teach practical business skills as well.
I would also appreciate any ideas you may want to share to help make this exciting project a success. You can contact me on the details given below.
Please, if you feel that this newsletter is not the platform for me asking things like this, let me know and I will never include them again.
Spring is just around the corner and I can’t wait to be warm again – but I am enjoying being out in the garden cold or not.
Look forward to seeing you in the nursery.
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
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