News & Events

12 Mar 2022

Fudan Character

Yang Sibao: a gardener guards campus landscape for 42 years

By Li Yijie

Have you ever noticed

the gardeners on Fudan campuses

in their uniform,

ploughing and weeding

till every corner is in full bloom. 

Yang Sibao, 58 years old,

is the most senior of them all.

Having worked around flora for 42 years,

he now leads the landscape crew on Handan campus. 

The campus is the drawing board

of these “artists” using nature’s gifts as brushes.

Today is the Arbor Day in China,

Let’s hear the tales of 

the Gardener Yang Sibao.

At five o’clock in the morning when the sky is faintly illuminated, Yang starts the first round of work of the day across Handan Campus, maintaining drainage facilities for greenery, checking on broken branches...

“These trees were donated by alumni in Cixi, Zhejiang Province.” “These trees were transplanted from Jiangwan Campus.”... Yang is normally a shy person, but when he speaks of flowers and trees, he can go on and on. Point to any tree on campus, and Yang can tell you right up the name of the plant and where it has been before arriving on Fudan campuses.

Handan Campus is the “home court” of Yang and his colleagues. Spring is the most hectic season of a year. Around China’s Arbor Day, the landscape crew plant new flora and make adjustments to the existing natural landscape on campus.

To guard these pretty yet delicate creatures, Yang’s team lives very close to the campus. Therefore, they would immediately come to the plants’ rescue, in case of harsh weather conditions such as typhoon and cold waves. 

Last year, Typhoon “Fireworks” hit Shanghai. Yang and his colleagues worked overtime to save the trees that broke due to strong wind and stake the rest of the trees on campus.

There was another year when the cold wave so was fierce that the temperature plummeted by more than 10 degrees Celsius on one night. Yang tossed and turned in bed that night, thinking about the 3,000 potted flowers on campus. The next day, the landscape crew worked 12 hours straight from 9am to 9pm to replace all the frozen potted flowers.

The trees on campus can grow as tall as 10 meters. Considering the risk of falling trees, the landscape crew usually have to transplant new trees at midnight.

Flora cannot speak for themselves, but they are also precious lives of this world. To save a giant Campor tree, now aged 60, in front the Chemistry Building, it took the landscape crew 10 years, loosening soil and applying fertilizer, adjusting drainage, infusing nutrient solution, and disinfecting the tree.

Back in 1980, the 16-year-old Yang left his hometown in Changshu, Jiangsu Province to receive his first job ever: a gardener in Fudan University. He recalled that he was responsible for maintaining the small lawn in front of the Maths Building. The only big lawn on campus was the one in front of Xianghui Theater. 

Fudan students grew plants in 1959

Landscape around the Science Library on Handan Campus in the 1970s

Xi Garden on Handan Campus in 1985

The change took place in 1983, when the university advocated a tree planting campaign. The entire faculty, staff and students worked together to transform two corners overgrown with weeds into the Xi Garden and Yan Garden we know today. The towering metasequoia trees on campus were also planted in the 1980s.

Since 1984, Fudan University has received the honor of “Shanghai Advanced Greenery Unit” and “National Garden Unit” for eight consecutive years.

Around the centennial celebration of Fudan University in 2005, the university redesigned the campus greenery plan, planting lawns near libraries, student dormitories, Wangdao Garden, etc. Yang and the rest of the gardeners also set higher standards for their work, from simply making the campus greener to creating landscapes with aesthetic value.

Fudan campuses today are brimmed with floral fragrance all year round. On Handan Campus, for example, there are more than 100 plant species, and over a dozen varieties of flowers bloom every season.  

On China’s Arbor Day every year, Fudan organizes events where students can have hands-on experience with greenery planting and maintenance. Sometimes when Yang is working on campus, someone will come up to him and consult him about plants.

It takes years to make a tree grow into a shape we prefer. The most gratifying moment for Yang is to see the saplings planted by his own hands grow into towering trees. Even after Yang retires, the flowers, brushes and trees he has ever cared for will keep every later generation of Fudaners company.

Presented by Fudan University Media Center

Editor:Wang Mengqi