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500 years of history bloom in Minhang
21/3/2005 10:17

Shanghai Daily news

One man's devotion to protecting a 500-year-old wisteria whose roots cover 0.53 hectares has paid off for Minhang District.
Ye Xinlong, bureau director for Minhang's green issues, believes the wisteria to be the biggest and oldest of its kind in the city.
He set out to persuade the district government to provide the purple-flower shrub a sustainable home, despite opposition from co-workers who doubted the value of spending millions of yuan on a shrub in the city's outskirts where possible visits might not bring in considerable income.
But Ye was insistent.
"The species is scarce in the city and this ancient sample makes it a treasure," he said.
"It has pulled through all the hard times and become a wordless historic witness. That makes it as worthy as anything to be protected."
Ye's persistence moved the district's top officials, who gave him 8 million yuan (US$963,000) to complete his proposal.
With the money, Ye invited several professional gardeners to design and build a 0.53-hectare garden around the area of the shrub's roots.
The district moved a small factory and three houses to make space for 300 kinds of plants and some structures recreating the character of an ancient water town.
"Without proper surroundings, a wisteria is unable to show its beauty to full effect," Ye said.
The garden now has maples, magnolias and pines and features corridors with stone lions, exquisite pavilions and small bridges over a winding creek.
The gardeners have been very careful not to damage the giant's roots which stretch to the opposite bank of the creek.
"We treat the old wisteria like a senior man who needs tender care to ensure longevity," said Ye.
The wisteria's branches have been supported with white stone-made frames and can provide shade for more than 100 people.
Six months after the restoration, Ye has hired a group of gardeners to take care of the shrub.
His vision has been rewarded by the number of foreign tourists attracted to the garden.
"The small garden enables them to enjoy both our traditional culture and the water town's typical sceneries," Ye said.
The garden, between Jiangchuan Community and Maqiao Town, is open all year round.
Spring is the best visiting time, with masses of purple blossoms and the sunshine threading its way through the white stone frames.
People who are interested in the tree are advised to take Metro Line One to the district's downtown and catch a taxi.

Time: All seasons (spring is best)
Venue: Between Jiangchuan          Community and Maqiao Town