Newsletter 4: February 2021

February 2021

Dear Customers

What can we say except “What a Year”!!!!

To those who ordered this last, year a HUGE thank you for your patience and understanding with our postage trials.

To those who will order going forward – I do hope things will be smoother with anything to do with Postage.

A warm welcome to our new website, hopefully you find it easier to use as the old one which was nearly 23 years old and in this age of technology that is incredibly old.

We will be updating descriptions/growing information as well as adding as many photographs as we can in the coming months so please keep a look out.

The website is not as fully automated as it could perhaps be, the reason being is that postage of your parcels is weight dependant and there is a huge variation in the weight of seeds from Erica’s dust like seeds to Sclerocarya (Marula) which has heavy seeds.  We will see if in time we can adjust this.  We are also still wanting to keep our personal touch, so feel free to send us emails, we never want to lose that part of Silverhill no matter how technology moves on.

We have also had to increase our prices sadly.  We have not had a price increase in +/-6 years and it is time we do so.  We do hope this is not going to be too much of a shock to you our customers.

Many of the photographs on the website are with thanks to Rod and Rachel who after having travelled widely over the 30 years they had the business, managed to photograph many plant species.  There are also pictures from various other contributors and I thank them very much for allowing us to use their photos.

It was the first year Thomas and I actively went out to identify plants and to mark where they were and when we should go and collect seed.  I thought we did quite well as it was only our first year of “hunting” and we are hoping that this year will be even better.  We certainly had a lot of fun, new roads, new people and some wonderful camping and lunch spots, and can understand why Rod and Rachel spent most of their time out-and-about.

Loving cats must be a “Silverhill thing”                                               Rather good camping spot!

I have taken the plunge and opened an Instagram account (Silverhillseedsandbooks), I am not a great social media person, but as a business we have to move with the times and I certainly will get better with posting things as I get used to using it.

Our staff compliment is just about the same:

  • Kirstin doing the bookkeeping and generally keeping me “in-line”.
  • Pat working in the office, who has welcomed the arrival of not 1 but 2 grandchildren this year.
  • Jenny in the Seedroom busy counting out and packing up your orders.
  • Our 2 seed cleaning “ladies” Regina and Dorothy who keep our supply of fresh seeds cleaned and packed away and their constant laughter is wonderful in the office.
  • Thomas, who cannot do his usual “day job” of Tour Guiding, is also coming in and counting seed and making up orders for us and his precision ensures that our parcels are packed with utmost care and accuracy.
  • A warm welcome to Julia who has joined the team. Julia comes from a Nature Conservation background and also worked at the Millennium Seed Bank at Kirstenbosch where she worked for a fair number of years.  With her organisational skills, we should be on top of not only the office, but the seed hunting too!  Added to that she is the Mom to 3 delightful little boys. We welcome her to the family and hope she is with us for many years to come.

Other staff matters:

The ever-patient Kenneth, who is Pat’s husband, does a lot of the driving, fetching, and carrying as well as standing in the Post Office queues with 50+ parcels, that need to be sent to you, our customers.  Both Kenneth and Claude (Jenny’s husband) are to be thanked for the Photographs of the books for the website.

Wendy Hitchcock and Louise Nurrish for their help with collecting seed and identifying plants and the excitement when doing so!

Cherrie who worked with me and before me for Rod and Rachel, decided at the beginning of 2020 that she wanted to retire, we wish her the best and when I last chatted to her, she was enjoying her walking in the mountains, hacking alien plants in the mountains, and generally enjoying her retirement.

Sadly, we had 2 deaths last year, Euphonia who used to clean our seeds passed away in April, and our very own mischievous seed collector Anthony Hitchcock sadly passed away in July.  We will most definitely miss Anthony’s pranks in the office and his wicked sense of humour and of course his HUGE amount of knowledge.

Anthony in a old Podocarpus elongatus

In the last 3 years I have met many contacts of Rod & Rachel’s and I would like to thank each them for their help and imparting their knowledge to me.  I have started learning and I am so excited about the next year and following years of my education.

The Saunders Field Guide to Gladiolus is in the pre-print stage and we are hoping it will be available towards the middle of the year.  Find out more about the Saunders Field Guide to Gladiolus here:

Here is hoping that 2021 will be a better year all round and thank you once again for your ongoing support – without you our customers, there would be no Silverhill Seeds and Books.

Happy Planting, stay safe, but most of all stay happy.

Ondine and The Silverhill Team

Silverhill Staff @ our belated end of year party

Back Row: Regina, Jenny, Thomas. Kirstin, Dorothy
Front Row: Pat, Wendy, Ondine with Islay (Kirstin’s daughter), Julia, Erica (my daughter)
Missing: Louise who was “gardening up a storm”