Leah Blanton is a member of GPN's 2024 Class of Forty Under 40 honorees
40 Under 40, Class of 2024

Leah Blanton


Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Job Title

Design and procurement manager


What 3-4 professional and/or personal accomplishments are you most proud of?

  • Creating a positive impact in the city of Philadelphia and the larger region by creating habitat boosting native plant species and improving climate resilience through layered, functional planting designs for public spaces 
  • Having the opportunity to design and build naturalistic demo gardens for the Philadelphia Flower Show that showcase a new perspective to guests highlighting the benefits of native plants and the inspiration of the wild in planting design for the PHS “Garden for the Greater Good” Exhibit in 2022 and Bartlett “Winter Woods” Exhibit in 2024
  • Sharing my knowledge, experience and unique perspective in planting design by teaching courses at the Mt. Cuba Center since 2023
  • Giving professional presentations on topics focused on planting design and ecology for the Woody Plant Conference in 2021 and the PLNA in 2022

What led you to work in the horticulture industry? 

  • Though horticulture was not what I studied as an undergraduate, I’ve always gravitated toward horticulture and nature through a parent who loved gardening and the outdoors. This was a big part of my childhood and was the lens through which I saw the natural world. Plants have always called to me, so I made the decision to pursue horticulture professionally just after receiving my bachelors degree in English — not seeing a clear and meaningful path in that field.
  • Since I’ve always been very artistic, designing with plants offered a way to “paint” with great impact and feeling. The fact that plants are living beings, food and shelter in themselves to other organisms, and that gardens are dynamic, evolving entities changing through time provides a depth to this art form that I believe makes it unique from all others and in many ways, makes it an inspiring force for positive environmental change.

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? 

  • Create gardens that help people, wildlife and the environment.


What are your favorite hobbies? 

  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Flower arranging
  • Embroidery
  • Ceramics
  • Traveling 

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

  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Crafting
  • Hanging out with my chickens

Fun Facts

Do you have any unusual talents, or can you tell us something interesting about yourself that other people may be surprised to find out? 

  • Can identify bird calls

One thing you can’t live without? 

  • My loved ones

What are you (un)secretly good at? 

  • Flower arranging

What are your top three bucket list items? 

  • One day, own a lot of land to restore its biodiversity over a long period of time
  • Have my own greenhouse
  • Visit as many remaining intact wild landscapes as possible

What’s your favorite plant variety and why? 

  • Impossible to answer, but if I had to, spring ephemerals like trillium, mertensia, hepatica, sanguinaria, etc. are so special for their mystery and transience.

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

  • Oaxaca, Mexico