Sourcing Wild Christmas Trees for Taliesin West
Mark Johnson | Dec 2, 2020
Journey with us to Arizona’s Grand Canyon as the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Retail Manager selects Christmas trees from the wild to decorate Taliesin West in a way that seems fitting for Wright’s winter home.
The North Rim is the wild side of the Grand Canyon. It is challenging to travel there, especially as winter is arriving. In November, services in the National Park close, the historic Grand Canyon Lodge, already shut down for the winter, recalls the Overlook Hotel from the book by Stephen King. If the roads are clear of snow, you can still drive to the rim for the surreal experience of gazing in awe at the Grand Canyon with no one else in sight.
This is also the time when Kaibab National Forest Christmas Tree Permits become available. This program not only continues the tradition of harvesting a Christmas tree in the wild, it assists in a small way with forest management by clearing undergrowth and giving other trees more room to grow. The need for this is apparent as you drive south on the Grand Canyon Highway, through forest recently ravaged by this summer’s Magnum Fire.
In the forest, the scale of things can play tricks on you. The 150-foot-tall spruce and fir trees make a ten-footer look like Charlie Brown’s tree. Per Forest Service instructions, you chop close to the ground and strip the stump of any remaining branches so it doesn’t regrow as a bush. The size of your tree becomes apparent as you hoist it into your truck bed. Red flags tied to the tops are needed as the ten-foot tree hangs three feet of the truck bed.
Back at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famously low ceilings make our “seedlings” seem even more enormous. The tree in the Frank Lloyd Wright Store is strategically placed under a skylight to give it just enough room. In the Garden Room, a few feet are taken off the bottom of the tree to make it fit. Our trees are obviously not artificial or from a tree farm. They are slightly misshapen and gangly – call them organic, wild, and local. We think they are just perfect for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.
Want to see the holiday decorations at Taliesin West in person? If you’re planning to be near Arizona, there is still availability to reserve an advance guided tour or self-guided audio tour at Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home in the Sonoran Desert.