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Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller

Nature and art come together at Lake Garda

Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller Nature and art come together at Lake Garda

March has arrived. A few more weeks and spring will make its way through cold and bad weather bringing with it milder days that will awaken our desire to be outdoors. In anticipation of this season, nss suggests a place to spend the weekend among nature art: the Botanical Garden of the Heller Foundation. Its story begins in 1901 when Dr. Arthuro Hruska, dentist doctor of the Tsars, of the Savoy, of the popes Pius XII and John XXII, of King Albert of Belgium and other famous personalities of history, moved to Gardone Riviera, a charming village located along the west coast of Lake Garda. Here, in love with the place, decides to buy land, initially terraced to vineyards, with an extension of about 15,000 meters on the slope of Mount Lavino to build in a garden. In a couple of years, between 1912 and 1914, Hruska collected thousands of different specimens of plants. 

Now, these have reached the impressive figure of over 3,000 species, thanks to the important contribution of Andrè Heller. In fact, since 1989, the botanical garden has moved to the foundation of the influential Viennese multimedia artist who has succeeded in transforming it into one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy.

"Ferns a meter high next to wonderful pomegranates and waterfalls, ponds with koi carp, trout and images of the flight of dragonflies, hills in dolomite stone next to cactus and towers covered with ivy. Indian and Moroccan sculptures in harmony with installations by Roy Lichtenstein, Susanne Schmögner, Mimmo Paladino and Keith Haring. When I look at one of the balconies of my villa, the majesty of Lake Garda or one of my bamboo groves, it is always hard to believe that this park has wanted me as its keeper and ally, and I thank him, as much as I can, with love."

With these laudatory words Heller describes the Eden that he managed to make on Lake Garda and reveals the secret of his uniqueness: the meeting between nature and art. Walking in the park means attending a dialogue between these two worlds, admiring lotus flowers, water lilies, bamboo, orchids and edelweiss, ferns, ancient and exotic trees, streams, waterfalls, ponds and water games, but also many installations and artwork.


It is easy to recognize the famous men of Haring and the works of Auguste Rodin or Joan Mirò as well as the Genius Loci by Heller: a bust with open arms covered in ivy emerging from the grass and representing the change of nature as opposed to the human intervention. There are also many installations that reproduce monstrous figures like bronze heads or covered with ceramic tiles that spray water or remain motionless in the role of guardians of nature. The Botanical Garden of the André Heller Foundation is a small paradise, an almost magical place that encompasses the lake landscape and a thousand other atmospheres and nuances. You can visit it from March to October every day from 9 to 19, but if you want more information you can check the official website.