The Last Wish: The Dalí Museum’s Unforgettable Tree


Halle Hosmer

“Many members of the St. Pete High community have been touched by the presence of this tree.”

Behind 35 feet and mass of Ficus tree lies over 20,000 wishes that are soon to be removed from the Dalí Museum and the greater community of St. Petersburg. 

The Wish Tree is designed to be a botanical symbol of the melting, drooping style that Dalí expresses through his clock artwork. The tree’s tradition is rooted in ancient Scottish beliefs that the tree’s vertical axis is linking Earth with Heaven. On this tree, thousands of wishers leave their hopes by tying their wristbands on ribbons on its branches.

This tree has been surrounded by love in the Avent Gardens of the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg. It’s a spectacular museum on the downtown waterfront by Bay Shore Drive, a place where many St. Petersburg High students have visited and left their dreams of the future. 

       When the tree was originally planted in dedication by the 2011 mayor, he wished for an undivided city. Since then, this tree has grown into a tradition of wishes.

Many members of the St. Pete High community have been touched by the presence of this tree. Claire Holecek, a current senior, remembers leaving a wish on the tree that said “I wish to end world hunger.” Another student, Ellie Silvers, also recalls leaving a wish on the tree many years ago. Silvers says it was a silly wish that “her dog would live forever”, but it made for a special memory of the tree she will forever cherish. 

Unfortunately, due to several events, the tree has been prepared for removal. Even though the tree is soon-to-go, the legacy behind it is infinite. 

There is no one else to blame but the disastrous, strong winds of Florida storms. Previously, the wishing tree had been uprooted four times. In 2017, Hurricane Irma’s wrath tore the tree from the ground, and ever since it’s been hanging on by a thread. It was anchored with concrete, but the naturally shallow roots of the tree were unable to withstand future storms.

Most recently, Hurricane Ian has caused the final, catastrophic destruction to come for this tree. Insurers of the Dalí Museum requested that the tree be removed once and for all. Taking its place, there is talk of a new immersive dome or different tree that will be much stronger. 

Luckily, the wishes will not go unnoticed. The Dalí staff collected 250 wishes, transcribed into a book called Wishes from The Dalí Museum Wish Tree. These wishes were full of a variety of hopes and dreams. Some were silly things like “I wish that dragons were real” or “I wish to marry food.” But some of them were much more vulnerable and intense, such as hopes like “I wish everyone had a safe place to sleep at night” or “I wish to end global warming.”

No matter what hopes and dreams people desired, the wishing tree listened with open arms. This tree was a place for the community to feel heard and safe, and it is a legacy that will continue, even if the tree no longer remains.