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The Interview—Joyce Iskander of Fleurscape Garden and Design

Photograph by Rodrigo Cid

By Christy Knell
March 24, 2024

For a few years now, Joyce Iskander has been known around HudCo as the local expert on all things garden. She’s hosted Garden Club in her tiered backyard, showing us her water feature, dahlias, clematis, and, of course, her cute kitties who stroll around to help lead the tour. And she’s advised other members on their windowboxes, vegetable gardens, and perennial plantings.

And now, with the launch of Fleurscape Garden & Design, we eagerly anticipate the growth and beauty Joyce will continue to cultivate in our lives and landscapes around the Rivertowns and beyond.

 

Tell us about your new business—what services are you offering, why did you decide to launch it? 

Fleurscape Garden & Design is a sustainable landscape design company offering a wide range of garden services with a personalized and collaborative approach. Whether it’s cut flower gardens, indoor house plants, container gardens, vegetable gardens, general landscape design, or even aquatic gardens, I help clients attain their garden goals.  

I decided to launch Fleurscape in April 2023 after years of helping many friends and family with their own gardens and house plants. After the pandemic, I noticed there was a growing need among neighbors to better connect with and understand their own indoor and/or outdoor spaces. People didn’t just want to fill a space with mass produced plants anymore.  They wanted a thoughtful, rich, bio-diverse garden that would help support their local pollinators. This inspired me to study at theNew York Botanical Gardento better understand the fascinating science behind horticulture and create this company to help others.

Photograph by Rodrigo Cid

How has gardening been a part of your life over the years? 

Gardening has always been a refuge for me. It started off as a hobby—where I would putter in the garden and experiment with different plants. I made a lot of mistakes, but that’s how I learned. Now, gardening is a part of my everyday life. I try to fit it into my day wherever I can. I take walks in a different way now. I observe and I strategize. It has truly become my daily meditation. No part of it ever seems like a chore. At the end of the day, I just want to teach people how to build, nurture, and respect their own gardens. It’s endlessly rewarding for me and I want other people to share that joy.

 

Tell us about your home garden—what are you most proud of? What has failed you? What has been your biggest learning moment? 

My garden is terraced with a water feature in the middle of the first level just like a Paradise garden. I grow water lilies and papyrus in my little pond.  Dahlias of every color and size are scattered throughout the summer months and perennials like hydrangea shrubs and rose bushes of various colors and scents border and separate my gardens. You will also find a lot of different elephant ears which add a tropical flair, as well as native pollinators such as black eyed susan, agastache, and monarda. I grow annuals like snapdragons, poppies, sunflowers, and zinnias.  I’m also big into vertical gardening so I have various clematis and climbing flowers like morning glory. I could go on and on…..

Many plants have failed me, but that’s exactly how I’ve learned throughout the years. I once pruned my hydrangeas all the way down to the ground in the spring and was stumped on why they didn’t produce any flowers. That was a big learning moment for me! Some years are better than others and I would absolutely say it is not always your fault. Sometimes mother nature has other plans in store for your garden. You just have to do the best you can.  

Where are your favorite sources for gardening supplies, plants, etc? 

I love Swan Island Dahlias for their amazing selection of dahlia tubers. Johnny’s Seeds has a really diverse selection of vegetable seeds. Blue Stone Perennials is also great for small starter perennials if you want to watch your budget.  Gardener’s Supply has great options for tools, trellises, and raised beds. Rosedale Nurseries in Hawthorne is a sprawling nursery that has pretty much every kind of plant, tool, deer repellent, or soil type for your garden.

 

What’s your favorite gardening book of all time (the GBOAT)?

Bringing Nature Home, by Doug Tallamy. He makes a great case for planting more natives in your garden and the positive effect this has on our ecosystem.  

What should every home in the Rivertowns have in their garden (if space allows)? And what’s the best container plant for Rivertowns porch/window/fire escape gardens?

I think every house should have Agastache flowers (the purple wispy flowers above). They are native perennial pollinators that come in lots of different colors and smell so great. They look lovely in any arrangement and self seed very easily. And deer do not like them! Best container plants are Lobelia, an annual with a cascading growth habit and beautiful blue flowers that last all summer. Creeping Jenny is also a great “spill over” perennial with bright yellow color that pairs so nicely with any color.     

Who should reach out to you for your services?

Anyone interested in improving or creating a garden space or who genuinely wants more garden knowledge.

Come meet Joyce, swap seeds, and learn about growing and nurturing your own seedlings at our Garden Club workshop on Thursday, April 4, at 1pm.