Arden Pontasch is recognized as one of GPN's 2024 Class of Forty Under 40 honorees.
40 Under 40, Class of 2024

Arden Pontasch


North Creek Nurseries

Job Title

Plant trials manager


What are four professional and/or personal accomplishments you are most proud of?

  • I am proud of the work I did in successfully helping to re-establish an endangered species (Comptonia peregrina) back into the Oak Openings Region, while working at the Wood County Park District in Ohio.
  • I am proud of the fact that I took a chance and moved away from home to pursue my career in horticulture in America’s Garden Capital.
  • I am proud of the innovation and creativity within my role that I am able to cultivate, which has led me to some great advancements.
  • I am proud of the relationships and the people that I have met who continue to inspire me to keep going in this direction!

What led you to work in the horticulture industry?

  • In high school, I worked at a garden center that was right down the street from the house where I grew up.
  • It was where I learned my ABCs of plants. I started my obsession with how plants can be used both for beautifying the landscape and homes, as well as being functional problem solvers, such as restoration or stormwater management projects.
  • This inspired me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and since then I have worked in the horticulture industry for almost 20 years.

What’s the best thing about your job? 

  • I get to do what I love, every day.

Describe to a 6-year-old what you do in life?

  • I compare different plants, both in the ground and in pots, to make sure our company produces the very best ones so people can use them in their gardens and in the landscape.


What are your favorite hobbies? 

  • I love to rock climb, bike, camp and hike!

When you’re not working, what are two things we could find you doing? 

  • I am likely cooking and spending time with friends or visiting one of the many gardens in the Philadelphia area.

Fun Facts

Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that other people may be surprised to find out? 

  • I once bike-packed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. (360 miles) with a group of friends within the span of 5 days.
  • We camped and enjoyed the incredibly varied scenery along the way!

What are you (un)secretly good at? 

  • I am good at setting my mind to a specific goal and doing everything I can to attain it, while inspiring others to join in on the fun!

One thing you can’t live without? 

  • My music is a big part of my life.

What are your top three bucket list items? 

  • Visit Kew Botanical Gardens in the UK
  • Visit Heronswood in Washington State 
  • Continue working to foster the relationship between people and nature, as I feel that’s the most crucial element to fostering a more sustainable and equitable future.

What’s your favorite plant variety and why? 

  • Comptonia peregrina — it smells amazing, it’s a nitrogen fixer, adaptable to just about any soil and it’s absolutely stunning in the landscape!

You’re buying a vacation package to anywhere in the world without a budget, where are you going?

  • I love to travel — I would love to go to the Netherlands, visit the Azores in Portugal, Basque Country in Spain or the Lavender Country in France.