Dear Indigenous Enthusiast
One month in and I already feel as if 2018 is galloping away! I’m determined to take some time though, and soak up all the beauty around me in the nursery and on the farm. The gardens are looking great after the rain, as I hope yours are too.
February is the month of love, World Wetlands Day, traditionally the hottest month of the year and the month where all the summer’s growth needs pruning back. I feel energised by all the verdant growth around me, but there comes a time when I have to keep it in check. Jeff and the retail team have been hard at work to prune and maintain the plants in the nursery. I am amazed at just how well they grow, even in the bags. Read more in our gardening section of the newsletter on pruning your indigenous plants in February.
January saw a lot of activity at the nursery, and I’m delighted that so many little people have enjoyed the joys of being in the garden with us. Ashley, Ronald and Bridget have delivered some wonderful workshops, for both Adventure club and small private birthday parties.
This picture is of Ronald helping to plant up a tiny succulent garden at one of the events – and shows that the Random Harvest Staff are both helpful and involved in everything we do. It is why I am so proud of them.
We have also hosted some baby showers, kitchen teas and workshops this month.
In The Nursery
The Succulent Display garden that Jeffrey and the retail guys built at the nursery entrance has turned out beautifully, and is such a happy, spontaneous garden. As you can see the Doves are also happy in the display.
I especially love the dry river bed with its contrast of stone and gravel, and of course, the little creatures that my staff know I love so much and have nestled into the garden, as if they have always been there.
Events In February
Lucky Draw for the month of February
If January left you feeling a bit skint, come and have some fun with our lucky draw at the nursery. We’ve put together a range of lovely prizes that you can win when you purchase anything from our retail nursery during the month of February.
Coffee Mornings with Linda
Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 the topic will be Gardening with Waterwise Indigenous Plants
Time: 10h30 – 12h00
RSVP: No need to book or RSVP.
Bring: A notepad and pen, your questions and a friend!
Grouping plants with similar water requirements is, to me, an essential factor in determining the success of a beautiful garden. We will chat about a selection of indigenous plants that grow well together because of similar water requirements, and look fantastic grouped together.
Wednesday 7th March the topic will beThe Conscious Gardener.
RSVP: No need to book or RSVP.
Bring: A notepad and pen, your questions and a friend!
We will talk about how to plan your garden with thought for the environment, the wildlife and your own lifestyle so that it incorporates all facets of your life and the things you are passionate about.
Bird walk with Andre Marx
This month we have a bonus for all who would like to go on a bird walk. Andre has luckily given us 2 dates. See below.
The last Bird walk was a bit wet (Happy for the rain). Luckily I had some rain ponchos to share with our attendees. The rain stopped in time and they saw 50 bird species in the space of an hour and a half. Why not join the next one?
Dates: 24th February and 17th March
Time: 6h30 for 7h00
RSVP to book your spot as soon as possible as these walks book up so fast.
Bring: Binoculars, Walking shoes, A hat and sunscreen
Cost: R155.00 including a buffet breakfast
We have recorded 4 new bird species, so our list now stands at 162 species recorded at Random Harvest. I am very excited about this. Many of these species have been discovered on our regular bird walks
Highveld Bulb Society – Cutting Workshop
Date: Saturday 10th February
Cost: R50.00 towards the societies funds and this includes Tea and coffee which is sponsored by Random Harvest.
RSVP / Bookings Random Harvest (082-553-0598) or Bulb Society [email protected]
Mike will host a workshop on how to propagate plants by cuttings. Mike has a wealth of information which he is happy to share with you.
Gardeners Courses by Lindsay Gray
Just a reminder of Lindsay’s courses coming up in February.
Friday 16th February 8h30 to 15h45 – Domestic Gardeners Course
Saturday 17th February 8h30 to 12h00 – Easy steps to planting your garden<
13h30 to 16h30 – Easy steps to drawing a garden plan
To book, or for further information, contact Lindsay on [email protected]; Cell : 082 44 99 237
Plants Looking Good
It was hard to choose plants that were looking more gorgeous than others this month, but here are a few that Jeff and I have handpicked as our best February offerings.
Polygala myrtifolia (September Bush) – One of our most popular and hardy indigenous plants for gardens.
It makes a beautiful, delicate, small tree for tiny gardens if pruned up nicely.
The complexity of the flowers is amazing. If you can, look through a magnifying glass to get the true beauty.
Drimiopsis maculata (Spotted Leaved Drimiopsis) – A briefly deciduous little bulb with gorgeous ornamental leaves.
They make wonderful container plants or scattered on the floor of a shady or semi-shade forest garden.
Drimiopsis thrives in dark, dry shade which makes it useful for those difficult areas in the garden.
It is also very drought hardy.
Impatiens hochstetterii (Mauve Impatiens) – This delicate shrub-like bedding plant is at its best in light, dappled shade, in well-mulched soil that receives a healthy amount of water.
It rewards one with delicate pale pinky-mauve flowers. Makes a wonderful container plant. Pinch off growing tips every couple of months to keep it compact and encourage flowering.
I had to make Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) one of my plant choices this month as it bears the most beautiful autumn colour which persist on the tree all winter adding a splash of colour. It is truly a tree for all seasons.
The crown leaves also has a splash of white on the lime green leaves in spring and a few red leaves in the dense dark crown in summer. It is a very popular garden, car-park and playground tree.
Everyone knows the perennial favourite Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata).
We now have the pink version in stock which is equally as beautiful.
I decided to do a plant promotion on two lovely species to help you at this time of year when we are all a little cash strapped.We are offering a 15% discount on the following plants.
Acacia caffra (Common Hook Thorn).
I love this beautiful, slightly weeping, rounded garden tree that does not get too tall. It has graceful feathery leaves and beautiful spikes of fluffy white flowers that attract a whole host of insects and birds. The rough flaking bark also attracts birds and insects. It makes an ideal shade tree for smaller gardens.
Tulbaghia violacea (Garlic Flower).
The bomb-proof garden plant that seems to do well anywhere that is in sun or semi-shade.
It flowers best in full sun, putting on a stunning display of lilac flowers if planted en masse.
An added bonus is that the flowers are edible and look beautiful in salads.
In The Garden In February
Amaryllis worms and Panaf7
The lovely rain we’ve had recently has brought with it lots of lush green growth…and lots of Amaryllis worms! The lipid mix Panaf 7 has been designed specifically as a highly effective solution to getting rid of this unwelcome worm.
A very low dosage of poison is contained in the lipid solution, but what makes it so effective at such a low concentration is that it is carried directly into the plant by the lipid.
As the lipids are used by the plant, the poison is left in the leaf tissue, rendering it toxic to the Amaryllis worms. Panaf 7 may be applied as a spray onto the leaves. The lipids are then absorbed through the leaves of the plant, and therefore, so is the poison.
February is also a good time to prune some of the indigenous plants in your garden that you want to look good through winter. Remember to give your secateurs and other pruning tools a good clean before starting to prune. This will avoid the spread of disease between plants.
The large, Broad Leaved Bristle Grass (Setaria megaphylla), and Weeping Anthericum (Anthericum saundersiae) can both be cut back to about 10 to 20cm tall this month, but not all grasses should be cut back though.
Leave the veld grasses through winter. They can be cut right back in July.
Cut off all the long shoots of trees and shrubs that have bolted and will make your plants look misshaped as they grow bigger. Do however bear in mind seeding and fruiting branches that may be valuable food for the birds.
Ensure that there is always enough left on unpruned branches to let the birds fatten up before the leaner months of autumn and winter.
Placing rocks in the garden
If you are placing rocks in the garden, remember that they have a right (top) and a wrong side (bottom). If one buries about 20 to 25 percent of the rock they also look far more natural in their surrounds. Also take care to study the lines and / or cracks in rocks so that you can arrange them in such a way that they are aligned.
On The Farm
I so appreciate the rain after the heat we have been experiencing.
The Acacia karroo (Sweet Thorn) always show their appreciation of the rain by bursting into flower after each 20mm we receive.
Not only are the trees beautiful but they offer up a bounty for the birds, bees and other insects that descend on them.
It is also the busy season for the birds. They are trying to keep up with the demands of their chicks. The Grey Headed Sparrow took absolutely no notice of us it was so busy answering to the calls of its chick.
Jeff managed to get this lovely picture of a Common Fiscal with its youngster. Although, this juvenile looks old enough to find its own food – giving its parents a well-earned break.
The Southern Masked Weavers are even trying to build their nests around the bird feeders. Maybe trying to impress a wife with their built in Larder.
An exciting visitor to the bird feeding tree was the female Red-billed Quelea. As exciting as it is I wonder if we will be able to afford to feed them if they bring their hordes of family and friends to the table?
The dam has been a hive of activity with the many birds in and around it.
The Red-knobbed Coot and Egyptian Geese both have babies. I cannot believe how aggressive the Coots are. They are bombing the geese and their babies.
The goose babies are too clever for the coots – as the coots attack, the babies duck under the water and pop up a few feet away. Very frustrating for the coots.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page where we will be posting a video that Jeff took of the babies ducking and diving.
I was so excited to see the Golden Bishops have returned to the dam.
They were going crazy munching the seeds of the Panicum schinzii (Sweet Grass).
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a better picture.
The Common Waxbills were also feasting on the seeds. You may only see a few but if you disturb them they fly up in a cloud.
love it when the Southern Red Bishops cling onto the stems of the Papyrus and Bullrushes.
Each protecting his own little territory around his nest.
They are beautiful little jewels flitting around in the reeds around the dam.
The Grassland is still looking absolutely amazing. The grasses, with their beautiful seed heads, are now taking over from the wild flowers. Although the Pelargonium luridum are still peeping out above the grasses.
My mom made little caps for the pollinated flowers of the Pelargoniums so that we can catch the seeds and, hopefully, get them to germinate. The beautiful grass on the left is Rooigras (Themeda triandra)
Amazingly the African Potatoes (Hypoxis hemerocallidea) are still blooming and have been doing so since early spring. In the areas where we cut the grass for a path the miniscule Hypoxis argentea is also flowering
The bees in our hives are really spoilt as they have fields of flowers right on their back doorstep. We only covered the Pelargoniums when they had collected their pollen and pollinated the flowers, hence the little caps.
The Clematopsis scabiosifolia are blooming in our mother plants. This is a first. I am really pleased as it is so beautiful and notoriously difficult to cultivate. Hopefully once started we can get them to grow again.
The flowers are so heavily scented they will pervade the whole house with a smell similar to tuber roses but not as strong. I love them and just hope Mike can get them growing for us.
Here the Flame Lillies (Gloriosa superba) are growing as a ground cover. Although they are normally climbers this is the first time I have seen them growing as groundcovers and beautiful they are too.
The Blood Flower (Scadoxus multiflorus) subsp. Katherinae are particularly beautiful this year. I am very excited to have so many flowers. Hopefully they produce a lot of seed so that we can get them into cultivation and offer them to you in the next few years. (Growing plants is really a long term thing.)
The Moore’s Crinum (Crinum moorei) is an easy, evergreen, bulb to grow in shade and very rewarding with multiple flower spikes in summer.
If you look carefully at the picture you will see the dark stamens and a tiny insect nestled in there.
If it gets attacked by the Amaryllis worm remember we have the very effective Panaf 7 in stock to sort this plague out.
I know I mentioned these miniscule Termitomyces microcarpus mushrooms last month but look at just how many gazillions there are. Amazing!
I also just love these tiny little umbrellas.They make my heart sing.
The gardens of the Bed and breakfast cottages are looking particularly good at the moment and I thought I would just share this picture with you.
If you would like to view the cottages, please speak to David or Paul at reception and they will happily show you.
I would like to introduce you to the latest addition to our dairy herd. This beautiful little heifer calf.
If you would like to see her, please stay safely behind the fence as her mother is very protective.
I couldn’t write a newsletter without at least one butterfly picture. This beautiful Citrus Swallowtail is sitting on one of the irrigation pipes. I am always amazed at how the butterflies are attracted to the plastic in the nursery. I wonder if it is the warmth of the black plastic that attracts them?
Whenever I see the sunlight shining through the trees like this picture or from behind the clouds I have, from childhood, believed that this is grace from God. As an adult I still like to believe it as it is so beautiful.
I felt quite sorry for this little wet Groundscraper Thrush.
But even so I hope it happens over and over in the next few months because of the good rains we get.
How is that for optimism.
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