Starting on Friday, November 13, 1998, 178 trees were wrapped with 592,015 square feet (55,000 square meters) of woven polyester fabric (used every winter in Japan to protect trees from frost and heavy snow) and 14.3 miles (23 kilometers) of rope. The wrapping was completed on November 22.
The trees are located in the park around the Fondation Beyeler and in the adjacent meadow as well as along the creek of Berower Park, northeast of Basel, at the German border. The height of the trees varied between 82 feet (25 meters) and 6.5 feet (2 meters) with a diameter from 47.5 feet (14.5 meters) to 3.3 feet (1 meter).
The project was organized by Josy Kraft, project director and by Wolfgang and Sylvia Volz, project managers, who also surveyed the trees and designed the sewing patterns for each tree. J. Schilgen GmbH & Co. KG, Emsdetten, Germany, wove the fabric. Günter Heckmann, Emsdetten, Germany, cut and sewed the fabric. Meister & Cie AG, Hasle-Rüegsau, Switzerland, manufactured the ropes. Field manager Frank Seltenheim of Seilpartner, Berlin, Germany, directed eight teams working simultaneously: ten climbers, three tree pruners and twenty workers.
As they have always done, Christo and Jeanne-Claude paid the expenses of the project themselves through the sale of original works to museums, private collectors and galleries. The artists do not accept any sponsorship.
The wrapping was removed on December 14, 1998 and the materials were recycled.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude have worked with trees for many years: In 1966, Wrapped Trees was proposed for the park adjacent to the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, and the 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 were the outcome of 32 years of effort.
The branches of the Wrapped Trees pushed the translucent fabric outward and created dynamic volumes of light and shadow and moving in the wind with new forms and surfaces shaped by the ropes on the fabric.