A Growing Vision

From vertical gardens to elaborate holiday displays, Cityscapes take horticulture to new heights.

By Laura DeSisto Photography by Derrick Zellmann

In the mid-’80s, a petite 20-something brunette was probably the last person you’d expect to upend a male-dominated industry, but that is exactly what Pembroke’s Jan Goodman did. It all started when Goodman, a newly minted UNH graduate with degrees in landscape design and horticultural technology, saw a help-wanted ad that read: “Love plants? Love people?”

“I saw that ad and yelled out, ‘Yes! Yes I do!’,” laughs Goodman. “The job was watering plants in office buildings for the company City Gardens in their New Hampshire territory. It only paid minimum wage, which I think was about $4.25 an hour back then. But I’ve never been motivated by money. For me, it has always been about doing something I love.”

Within a few years of starting with the company, Goodman finally convinced management to promote her to a regional salesperson. “I sold plant installation and maintenance projects in New Hampshire and I was really crushing it and getting a lot of big accounts. Eventually, the company transferred me to the best territory–Boston’s Back Bay.” Goodman loved her job, but after 10 years her employer was purchased by a larger company and she decided to move on. “It had become too impersonal and corporate for me,” she says.


Since Goodman had a two year non-compete with City Gardens, she had to pivot in order to continue working in the horticulture industry. She decided to open a flower and plant shop in Copley Place, which she called Fleurtacious.  “I knew practically nothing about floral arrangements,” Goodman laughs. “But learning an entirely different thing was exhilarating and pushing myself to do something completely different was exactly what I needed at that point in my life.”

By then, Goodman was dating her future husband, Chris. As luck would have it, his grandmother, Betty Crane, owned Lovell’s Flowers in Hingham and she was able to teach Goodman everything she knew about floral design.

“I sold a wedding package even though I didn’t really know what I was doing,” says Goodman. “Thank God Betty was there to help me. And by the way, we believe that Betty was one of the first female flower shop owners in the country. For many years, it was a totally male-dominated industry.” Within a few short years Fleurtacious was designing floral arrangements for Tiffany & Co. and Neiman Marcus at Copley Place.

While Goodman enjoyed the time she spent in her little flower shop, she missed the world of larger plant installations. In yet another moment of kismet, shortly after her non-compete expired, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel approached her for just such a project,

“From there, it grew like wildfire. I started doing Bain Capital, the Marriott and the Christian Science Center,” says Goodman. “When I got the entire John Hancock tower and all their buildings, that sent me to the next level.”

In 2000, Goodman incorporated her new venture, Cityscapes, and the company’s more than three-decade run has been nothing short of remarkable. By gaining the trust and long-term business of some of the largest corporations, apartment buildings, institutions and hotels in Boston, she grew Cityscapes into the most successful interior and exterior landscape company in New England with annual revenue of more than ten million dollars.

If you’ve spent any time in Boston, chances are pretty good that you have viewed a number of her company’s projects, including their spectacular, award-winning holiday displays, which often feature full-sized antique sleighs and two story Christmas trees.

Goodman says that one reason why Cityscapes continues to flourish is that she and her staff are continually educating themselves on trends and innovations in the industry, such as the construction of living walls - self-contained vertical gardens of plants placed into a custom metal framework and mounted to an existing wall.

“We also now offer what we branded as Living Fernature ™,” she says. “Think of a coffee table or work surface with a mini-greenhouse of plants under the glass. What’s cool is that if you’re having a stressful moment at work, you can take a breath and get temporarily lost in the micro landscape.”

These Living Fernature™ and living wall installations are meant to bring nature into the built environment – part of a design movement called biophilic design. Research has shown that contact with live plants results in reduced stress and increased productivity. Plants also naturally clean the air and improve the humidity levels in buildings. “Designing with nature in mind will benefit us all in the end,” says Goodman.

As her 60th birthday approaches, Goodman says that it’s time to slow down a bit. She recently brought her daughter, Sam, in as the company’s director of marketing and she is delegating more work to her loyal staff of nearly 100, many of whom have been with the company for decades, and some since its inception.

“I built a ‘she-shed’ in my backyard in Pembroke where I can work from home,” says Goodman. “Of course, I still go into the city to visit clients and collaborate on large-scale projects with my team, but I am able to work remotely because I have such an amazing staff. However, I have no plans to retire anytime soon because this career has never felt like work to me. It’s like the old saying, if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”


Plants with a Purpose

Jan Goodman launched TransPLANTed, in 2019, to support Boston’s important causes. She bought a box truck and with the help of her daughter, Sam, and sister-in-law, Jenn Caulfield, she converted it into a roaming greenhouse with a clear roof. They nicknamed the vehicle “Sprout.”

Goodman’s crew takes Sprout to pop-up locations around Boston, partnering with corporations to sell plants and arrangements with all proceeds going to non-profit organizations, including Big Sister Boston, the NAACP, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This initiative, along with her many other charitable endeavors, helped earn Goodman a spot on People magazine’s “Kindest People in America” list. To track Sprout’s whereabouts, follow
@transplantedboston on Instagram.


Utopia Festival

In 2022, Goodman became the majority owner in Utopia, New England’s premier horticulture and epicurean festival. The festival launched last March with thousands of people in attendance.

“The festival was an explosion of experiences for the senses,” says Goodman. “We had mixologists making high-end cocktails from local spirits. We had charcuterie and candle making classes, and of course indoor and outdoor plant displays and workshops. Anything we could think of to help people live well and live inspired.”

Goodman says that the festival has something for all ages and she loved seeing the diversity of the crowd. “It was like a mash-up of the generations,” she laughs. Plans are already underway for the next festival, scheduled to take place March 22-24, 2024. To follow the fun, follow @utopiaseaport on Instagram.