Invading my dreams

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Agapanthus, or Lily of the Nile. Image: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Snapseed.

A native of southern Africa (despite the name, ‘Lily of the Nile’), Agapanthus is one of many plants introduced to New Zealand that grows so well here that it has been declared an invasive weed by the Department of Conservation.

It is particularly widespread around Auckland, frequently planted along fence-lines, and growing prolifically by the roadside.

Lately Agapanthus has also invaded my dreams — or at least one recurring dream in which I am walking along a country road. It is morning and the sun is shining. I don’t recognise my surroundings and there are no sign-posts or landmarks, just the familiar jumble of flax, gorse, manuka and agapanthus growing beside the gravel berm. I am anywhere and nowhere.

There are no cars on the road; the only sound is my slightly ragged breathing. I keep looking behind me, waiting for an unseen threat to become visible. I have been walking for a long time.

Every now and then, the narrative focus changes; I experience the dream not through the eyes of my walking self, but in the third-person — a long dolly shot with the camera some distance in front of me.

Eventually I wake; agitated and uneasy.

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Beautiful, but considered an invasive weed.Β  Images: Su Leslie, 2015. Edited with Snapseed and Pho.to Lab.

I really don’t understand this dream, which has so invaded my sleep lately. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, particularly the ever-present Agapanthus.

Photo-editing can be a form of doodling — an activity that keeps my hands busy while my brain is free-falling. I’ve edited and re-edited this particular shot, and somehow these two images come the closest to, if not making sense of my dream, at least reminding me that it is a dream.

Dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask. ~X-Files

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge, at Lens and Pens by Sally.

 

 

 

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32 thoughts on “Invading my dreams

  1. I think you have done really well in creating a dream like affect on your two agapanthus photos Su!! They are a plant that doesn’t appear to be grown up here, but they are commonly grown in West Cornwall. It’s interesting to hear that they are classed as an ‘Invasive Weed’ in Auckland, Cornwall and much of the UK has had serious problems with Japanese Knotweed, I’m going to forward your link to Cornwall Council, just to make them aware of the possible problem with the agapanthus plant!
    As to your dream Su, it sounds fascinating and maybe a wee bit sinister, but I’m definitely not a dream expert, so I wouldn’t like to guess as to what it means! I like your X Files quote!! πŸ™‚

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    • Hi Andy. It’s interesting that people here are quite ambivalent about the ‘invasive weed’ thing. Some councils take it seriously; others seem to be actively planting agapanthus on public land. They are so beautiful lining the roadside, it’s hard not to like them. I have been thinking a lot about the dream and realised that the bits I “see” from an external perspective are not “shot” from in front of me, but from behind. I think that’s where the sense of being watched and not seeing the watcher comes from. My dreams are usually narrative nonsense, but would make quite good surrealist films πŸ™‚ Hope all’s well with you and it’s not too cold in Fife yet.

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      • Hi Su πŸ™‚ Agapanthus is beautiful, but I guess it’s classed as invasive because once it get’s established, it grows at the expense of native species of plants. And the native plants will support a particular set of insects and microbes etc, which in turn support a hold load of different birds and mammals. Thus, even though Agapanthus looks beautiful to us, it can have quite a large knock on affect on the local wildlife!
        I often think that about dreams Su, I’m sure some of these very successful weird ‘horror’ film directors take their dreams as inspiration for films! Lol!
        It’s not too cold in Fife just yet, but we have had a wee bit of snow on a few days now, and tomorrows top temp is set to be 2 degrees C, most of the day will be around the freezing point! πŸ™‚ I’m guessing it’s somewhat warmer with you!! πŸ™‚

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      • That’s so true Andy. NZ is full of plants (and wee animals) that were introduced because they looked nice, or they hitched a ride with humans. They now play havoc with our native species. Kiwi and other native birds have suffered population decimation because of rats and stoats (and cats/dogs).
        It’s certainly not cold here, but we’re looking at a week of rain 😦 and it will be very humid.

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      • It’s a shame that so many foreign species do get introduced to different countries, of course the Victorians were the worst culprits in the UK! 😦
        I think the cold weather now seems very appealing Su!!! πŸ™‚

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      • Yes, most of our introduced species arrived with Victorian Britons settling here. Maori brought rats on their boats from other parts of Polynesia, but we Brits are responsible for pretty much all the other invaders.
        I’d go for cold weather over humidity any day.

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    • I’ve been thinking about the dream a lot today. I wonder if the agapanthus are there because they are so ubiquitous around NZ. I’ve been driving around country roads a bit lately, and the agapanthus have been really visible and colourful. I think it’s the emptiness of the road that is significant to me. I’ve finished a big project and am feeling at a bit of a loose end. It’s fascinating stuff when I start to think about it.

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  2. Su, in my mind dreaming of one of nature’s must fascinating flowers is a good sign. Sometimes dreams are just that: picking up on the joys of real life. We certainly need them now, and nature (for the moment in time and space) continues to offer them. Your second image brings an even greater ethereal quality to a flower that brings scores of insects and HUMMINGBIRDS. Maybe the ubiquity of the agapanthus in your area simply fills your heart and soul with joy. I hope so. Happy Photo Challenge.

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    • Thank you Sally. I am (at least in my waking hours) so enjoying all the flowering and growth in nature here. From the roadside to my garden, nature is showing her generosity and beauty here.

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  3. Pingback: Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (and Human Nature Inextricably Bound in Lower Manhattan) | Lens and Pens by Sally

  4. I really like that X Files quote. Considering some of the really weird stuff I’ve dreamed up over the years, it’s just as well I don’t know what question they are trying to answer πŸ˜‰

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  5. I second the love of the X-Files quote. Well put.

    Are your agapanthus mostly white in NZ? It’s mostly purple here and also considered a weed. Took us ages to get rid of it out of our garden. Unfortunately, I replaced it with another African plant that seems just as bad and is popping up all over the place. I chose it because it was drought-tolerant but I’m thinking it might be wise to avoid anything from Africa in future.

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    • I think probably over 50% of our agapanthus are the blue/purple ones, but both grow prolifically. It amazes me that here it’s both a weed, and something that’s deliberately planted — even on public land. I can see that it would overwhelm other species. I think we have more trouble with European plants; NZ is warm and wet enough for them to thrive, but not so hot as to kill them.

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  6. Dreams are fascinating, aren’t they? Do you feel lost in the dream? I’ve often had dreams of wandering somewhere lost, and I’ve been told it’s an anxiety dream. For whatever that is worth!

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  7. What a Dreamy post with a fabulous plant in blossom and deep evocative thoughts!I should think you used your dream as an allegory to describe sentiments and the different phases through the manipulation of a photo.I might be wrong.Any help?Anyhow,your second photo with the diffused light and the touch of colour is otherworldly.Then dreams have colours … Happy Sunday dear friend Su πŸ™‚ xxx

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    • I think you are right. My dreams are very visual and quite cinematic in form, and I do find that playing with “real” images often brings clarity and sometimes acceptance of the messages my subconscious is sending. Thank you dear Doda.xxx

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