On the gentle hills of Lake Garda, a single garden encapsulates the entire planet: from Arthur Hruska to André Heller, botany and art at the service of utopia.

Oneiric atmospheres in a garden only a few steps away from the more well-known residence of Gabriele D’Annunzio and that owes its foundation to the Austrian doctor Arthur Hruska (1880-1971). Traveller, dentist, surgeon, ethnologist and essayist, Hruska worked in Saint Petersburg at the court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia before retiring to Gardone Riviera where he became a botany enthusiast. Here, starting in 1903, he created a garden covering about one and a half hectares, divided into various themes and with numerous streams flowing through it. With an encyclopaedic spirit and minute attention to the climatic conditions of the area, Hruska brought to the shores of Lake Garda the charm of Japanese gardens, together with a rich collection of succulents, and the colourful and austere shapes of a Steingarten, the Alpine rock garden. About 3000 botanical species grow across the different areas of the garden. The ferns, including the most notable Osmunda Regalis, alternate with bamboo groves and flowering Primula denticulata and irises that grow in the shade of a great variety of trees and bushes imported from Himalaya, Mato Grosso and Oceania. In 1988, the property passed to Austrian artist André Heller (born 1947) who has embellished it with numerous works of art by Mimmo Paladino, Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein, making it a “centre of ecological conscience”.