Given that I had a black thumb till I was 45, I think our mother would be proud. Not that I did anything but bung them in pots and forget about them.
For me this picture is both nothing but itself -- flowers, perfect and powerful, with intense and brief and burning lives -- and also immediately about an accreted mass of memory from a life spent mostly reading. Wordsworth. Ovid. Forster. A.S. Byatt. My mother chanting 'daffy-down-dilly'. The perfume I wore circa 1981, whose name I now can't remember, but which smelt of hyacinths, dense and ever so slightly bruised, not exactly sweet.
There were two lemons amongst the plums, to intensify the colour. How would one find the exact word for the colour of the plum-skins? (There was a further question of why one might want to do so ... It was a fact that the lemons and the plums, together, made a pattern that he recognised with pleasure, and the pleasure was so fundamentally human it asked to be noted and understood.)
... Language might relate the plum to the night sky, or to certain ways of seeing a burning coal, or to a soft case enwrapping a hard nugget of treasure. Or it might introduce an abstraction, a reflection, of mind, not mirror. 'Ripeness is all,' language might say, after observing 'We must endure Our going hence even as our coming hither.' Paint too could do these things. ... Van Gogh's painting of the Reaper in his furnace of white light and billowing corn said also 'Ripeness is all.' But the difference, the distance, fascinated Alexander. Paint itself declares itself as a force of analogy and connection, a kind of metaphor-making between the flat surface of purple pigment and yellow pigment and the statement 'This is a plum.' 'This is a lemon.'
... Alexander ... became obsessed with a small painting of a breakfast table, on which Van Gogh painted the household things he had bought for his artist's house ... held together by the contrast and coherence of blue and yellow. Vncent described it to Theo:A coffee pot in blue enamel, a cup (on the left) royal blue and gold, a milk jug checkered light blue and white, a cup (on the right) white with blue and orange patterns on a plate of earthenware yellow-grey, a pot of barbotine or majolica blue ... finally two oranges and three lemons: the table is covered with a blue cloth, the background yellow-green, thus six different blues and four or five yellows and oranges.
-- A.S. Byatt, Still Life
Any sighted combination of blue and yellow has immediately evoked these pages from Still Life ever since I first read it, and the date I've written on the flyleaf is 1985.