Christo and Jeanne-Claude have worked with trees for many years. Nursery trees are commonly found with both their roots and crowns wrapped and it is also common to see trees temporarily wrapped as protection against frost or during transport.
Christo created his first Wrapped Tree in 1966 as part of his personal exhibition at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. By placing the tree, with its roots wrapped in fabric and branches wrapped in polyethylene, inside the museum, where it was shown on a pedestal, Christo changed its natural habitat to a novel one creating a paradoxical sight.
In the same year, Christo and Jeanne-Claude proposed to wrap the crowns of about forty live trees near the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park, Missouri. Christo and Jeanne-Claude wanted to wrap the trees in winter, when they are leafless and dormant, but the project fell through because the university that owned the park opposed it.
In 1969, the artists started to negotiate permission for wrapping the 330 trees bordering the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and the Rond Point in Paris. The project was denied by Maurice Papon, Prefect of Paris, because the city had decided instead to decorate the trees with electric Christmas lights.
32 years after their initial attempt to wrap live trees, Christo and Jeanne-Claude finally succeeded with Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98 when they wrapped 178 live trees.