Christo and Jeanne-Claude worked with the theme of trees for many years: in 1966, Wrapped Trees was proposed for the park adjacent to the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, and permission was denied. In 1969, the artists requested permission for Wrapped Trees, Project for 330 Trees, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris. This was denied by Maurice Papon, Prefect of Paris. The Wrapped Trees in Riehen was the eventual result of 32 years of effort.
Starting on 13 November 1998, 178 trees were wrapped with 55,000 m2 of woven polyester fabric (used every winter in Japan to protect trees from frost and heavy snow) and 23 km. of rope. The wrapping was completed 9 days later on 22 November. Eight teams worked simultaneously: ten climbers, three tree pruners and twenty workers. The wrapping was removed on 14 December 1998 and the materials were recycled.
The trees involved were in the park around the Fondation Beyeler and in the adjacent meadow as well as along the water in Berower Park, northeast of Basel, at the German border. The height of the trees varied between two and 25 metres with a diameter from 1 to 14.5 metres.
The branches of the Wrapped Trees pushing the translucent fabric outward created dynamic volumes of light and shadow which moved in the wind creating new forms and surfaces shaped by the ropes on the fabric.