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The Garden of Ideas is located

in Ridgefield, Connecticut, approximately one hour

north of New York City.







The Garden of Ideas was once a part of a large farm that spanned both sides of Route 116.   Several barns and outbuildings still stand on adjacent parcels.  

Terry and Traug Keller came to Ridgefield in the early 1970‘s and bought a house, unknowingly planting the seed for the Garden of Ideas.  They raised three sons here.   Terry gardened professionally, working independently and at the New York Botanical Garden and Bronx Green Up.   Middle son, Joseph, spent hours working with her and others.   He wandered the back yard and wondered.  

Ultimately, in 1987, Joseph returned from college and slowly began to take over his mother’s design business and her yard, to the chagrin and amusement of his parents.    He eliminated much of their lawn, removed poison ivy, took down and pruned existing trees and planted, planted, planted.    The deer visited, some things died,  but others prospered, flowered, spread.  


In 1996 Ilsa Svendsen joined in his endeavor. Their landscape design collaboration continues at SvendsenandKeller.com.  They are now married with a eleven-year old son (see garden gnome).

Terry Keller still lives and works on the property.

They are now planning for the future.


Joseph Keller studied english at the University of Pennysylvania.   He started gardening as a child with his mother Terry and grandfather Henry.  His interest evolved into a passion and career.  Recognized in the industry as a savvy plantsman and designer, Joe writes about gardening for publications including Fine Gardening and the New York Times.   In his spare time, he enjoys analyzing biotech stocks, reading poetry, and cooking.  He loves brussel sprouts.

Ilsa Svendsen trained at the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture. She studied philosophy at the University of Nebraska and has worked in almost all facets of horticulture including commercial plant propagation and production.  She dreams of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, learning to play the piano, and improving her spanish someday in the near future.   

Terry Keller worked as the Director of Bronx Green-Up and Green Guerillas.    She’s travelled the world, educating people about sustainable vegetable growing.