4 gentlemen or noble plants: orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum and cherry plum in Chinese painting are the most common themes for pictures as each of them has its own symbol and sense.
Let's see how they look like in real nature:
Orchid is gentle and sophisticated, it represents early spring, the idea of purity, simplicity and nobility.
The leaves are painted with metal brushstroke and the flowers with fire brushstroke.
Pictures of Katerina Chernaya (don't forget to click on the pictures to see the larger image)
Picture of Ruslan Omeliyanenko
Bamboo is a symbol of strong character, real man with high moral values. I've written about bamboo in this blog earlier http://wuxingpainting.blogspot.com/2012/02/main-themes-of-chinese-and-wu-xing.html
Among 4 gentlemen bamboo is associated with summer. For its painting movements of Wood and Fire are used.
Picture of Katerina Chernaya
Chrysanthemum is beautiful, virgin and shy, it symbolises autumn. This flower is a symbol of high-minded solitude and calmness. In Wu Xing painting there are many ways to draw this flower.
Pictures of Elena Kasiyanenko
Wild cherry plum is associated with purity of thoughts and life troubles resilience. As this plant can preserve its juice even in severe frosts real gentleman should be able to preserve calmness and harmony inside even when life is tough. On the North of China wild cherry plum is often blossoming under the snow. It is often associated with winter time.
Picture of Ruslan Omeliyanenko Picture of Diana Medvedeva