Alton Park and Rec worker Joel Anderson stands by the first wild cherry tree he planted in the Oriental Garden on Monday morning. Five trees were planted on the entrance to the garden on the hill. (Photo by Dan Brannan)

ALTON - Joan and Chuck Sheppard of Alton have had a long-time commitment to the Oriental Garden at Gordon Moore Park and that journey continues today after 25 years of involvement.

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Thanks to a donation by the couple and another local supporter Angie Adams, in memory of her mother and father, two cherry trees were planted early Monday morning by the Alton Park and Rec Department’s Joel Anderson. Other donors for trees are still be solicited by the Oriental Garden Committee, Sheppard said.

Joan said she and her husband made a trip out there about 10 this morning, and those two trees and three others were planted in a series on a hill overlooking the area at the entrance of the Oriental Garden.

“I have served on the Oriental Garden Committee for 25 years,” she said. “Dr. Sadiq Mohyuddin and his wife, Talat, have also served that long, so this is a special place to us. We are now reinventing it after all these years and Ben Chu, horticulture supervisor of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Ben came over and staked the areas out for the trees on Nov. 28.”

Joan Sheppard said she believes the cherry trees will be a beautiful site in the spring.

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“These are the same cherry trees they have in Washington, D.C., when they have the wonderful spring celebration,” she said.

The trees are about 9-foot tall and 2 inches wide already, so they should develop quickly into full trees.

Anderson said he was going to cover them with some small fencing to prevent the deer from tampering with them. He said now when trees are planted at the park, they have to be protected from the deer because they are so plentiful.

Bob Barnhart, Alton director of Public Works, said he couldn't be happier with the project to beautify the Oriental Garden at Gordon Moore Park.

"It is very exciting to see some improvements being done in Oriental Garden area," he said. "The intent of the trees is to separate that property from other areas of the park to give it an oriental feel. That is why we chose cherry trees to plant. It is a really good project. I am happy to be working with the Sheppards and the Mohyuddins on this project.  This is the first of many things to come."

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