Considering the climate, the seasonal flowers of Hué might be the lotus, frangipani, flamboyan, or Cassia Fistula better known as Golden Shower tree. All of them represented within the Citadel.
As in China, so in the Imperial Hué, the decorative details associated to the nature in a certain way, obeying the Chinese aesthetic rules. Flowers of the Four Seasons is simply a category of symbols. Accordingly; the image of orchid represented spring, lotus represented summer, chrysanthemum indicated autumn, and early plum blossom stood for winter.
But those flowers were not only to please the eye. Emerging together on a different architectural details of the same building, or on a different sections of one set of paintings, they supposed to cause reflection over the time floating by...
Another aspect is the connection of the plants with certain qualities which respected and educated people (read: men) should posses. Three of the typical seasoning flowers had their prominent place among the "Four Gentlemen", plants associated with virtues like humbleness, loyality, love of poetry, firm character.
That is why, also here in Hué, the decorations presenting the orchid, the chrysanthemum, and the plum blossom are seen more often in the spaces occupied by men rather than women. But it was the right combination of different floral elements which actually indicated if the room was a male or a female domain.
One can only imagine the beauty of ornaments during the Nguyens times. Today only part of them is extend, painfully touched by turbulent times. Nevertheless, they witness of the former splendor and the tight connections to the Chinese taste rather than to local environment.
Section of the gate within the central- Western part of the Imperial City. March 2012
I´m starting with winter season. One could as well have it as a last one but the plum blossom with its delicate flowers concurs the frost and snow being (in Central-Northern China) the first flower of the year.
Beside being a "winter flower", plum blossom is also a symbol of a new love or rather falling in love. It has also an erotic meaning which could be the reason for its presence among the "Four Gentleman".
The pattern for the plum blossom is a small white flower with five petals. It may remind of some other kinds of plants but it is meant to be a Prunus mume. No question about that.
Detail from the Great Gate entering the temple section in the South-Western part of the Imperial City. March 2012
Trying to recognize the orchid one should not look for a showy flowers, on the contrary; in the Chinese culture the most appreciated orchid was the very humble one, growing on the rests of soil between some rocks or boulders, and having very small, insignificant, but fragrant, flowers.
Section of the decorative board on the wall within the Forbidden City. March 2012
Here the orchid is recognized by its long, bended leaves.
Relief is not so often seen among the ornaments of Imperial City. Here is a section of a Great Gate leading to South-Western temple section. March 2012
Lotus is Asia´s most symbolic flower thanks to its position within Buddhism. As a seasonal flower it has the summer to represent. Short is its time of blooming in Hué. Approximately one month in May/June period.
Lotus plant shown in the mosaic on the board decorating the roofed walking galleria connecting the Theater with the Emperor´s private apartments and leading farther, to the Queen Mothers´Compound. March 2012
Location as above. March 2012
Chrysanthemum´s bloom was traditionally associated with autumn. And, thanks to the classical Chinese poem, with patience, friendship, and loyalty.
This image of Chrysanthemum is decorating the The Mieu temple where all Nguyens kings have their altars. March 2012