"Is that real?"

The row of colorful flowers looked bright and cheerful, but something seemed a bit off.

I recognized the flower type, Agapanthus, used in landscaping all over the city and more so in the hills where we currently live, but I wondered, do they also bloom in orange, purple...and blue? I had only moments to decide since my view was from the car.

Stopped at a red light, I snapped a few photos from my passenger side window to inspect further at home.

That's when the light caught the painted petals just so; the wonder of mother nature was, in fact, a man-made contribution. A seemingly laborious one at that; The assumed guerilla artist(s)' work was so clean that the tubular flowers looked candidly natural.

I'm sure this scene on Frome Street, in Adelaide's CBD, caused many people to do a double-take. Some might have been upset about it (as in this Reddit post expressing concern over photosynthesis, only to be debunked by another commentator). Whereas others, like me, likely experienced a moment of delight.

The colorful display of in-situ art reminded me of several white-washed palm trees in Los Angeles that were a part of a larger project:

image credit Tommy Lei
image credit Tommy Lei

As well as another (maybe imagined?) art installation involving a palm tree in LA.

Many years ago, as I drove on the 110 freeway, passing Downtown LA skyscrapers and palm trees sunbathing in the afternoon glow, I noticed something glistening above. Looking up and around me always eased the pain of traffic, and this time I was rewarded by something gold and shiny in a palm tree. The bright flicker that caught my eye was an entire golden palm frond; it was a palm frond made of gold-colored tinsel!

HOW. DELIGHTFUL.

I felt grateful for the unknown artist who had braved the installation's location to create the in-situ moment. Back at home, I searched for information about it, just as I did after my Adelaide city-streetscape sighting, but there was nada. No mention of a magical-looking golden palm frond gracing the concrete jungle or a guerilla artist to applaud.

The golden frond felt magical...and perhaps it was.

The next day, the golden frond made of tinsel was nowhere in sight. It was either there, and the sun's light was no longer hitting it just so from my vantage point, or I had completely imagined it. Kind of like when I was seven years old and saw a golden fairy zip by in front of my face; It was most likely a dragonfly, but I reveled in the magic of seeing a real-life fairy. I still do.

Now worlds away in Adelaide, South Australia, my most recent colorful roadside sighting was indeed confirmed as a part of our physical world. Yet despite the realness of the painted Agapanthus, the way that the maybe-existed-maybe-not golden palm frond made me feel years ago was real enough for me.