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meet jena

hi, i’m Jena, Landscape architect. Nature play expert. Artist-Builder. Garden fanatic. Mom of twins

I’ve dedicated my decades-long career to designing children’s nature play areas, sensory gardens, learning landscapes, and custom playscapes. My philosophy has stayed strong - children of all abilities and diversities, from early childhood to teens, need daily access to nature-based environments so they may blossom.

Now, I’m teaching parents, early childhood professionals, and educators how to build their own sensory-rich nature play spaces and learning landscapes. My primary work now is to be a bridge for you – the bridge from the design world to your own home and family.
My passion is to be a bridge for you - the bridge from the design world to your own home and family. Creating nature play inspired by you.

As far back as I can remember

The natural world had a magnetic pull on me. When I was three years old, I’d wander away from my mom at the store. She’d find me, always, in the plant aisles somewhere between the fiddle-leaf figs and the jade plants.

At four years old, I asked Santa for a plant for Christmas. You heard me right, Santa. You can keep your dolls.

At five, I was a garter snake tracker, fort maker, and picker of all flowers.

By 17, I built a large stone patio based on a photo I had been drooling over in my Fine Gardening magazine. This was about the time when my mom suggested I explore landscape architecture as a possible career path.

My love for Children’s Play & Learning Environments

I’ve spent almost my entire career designing children’s nature-based play, learning, and therapeutic environments. In 2004, after a series of “A-HA moments”, I began researching neurodiversities, like autism and sensory processing disorders, because I wanted to make sure the spaces I helped create
supported all kids and how each are “wired” a little (or a lot) differently.

As my understanding of the neurodiverse experience grew, I realized just how important children’s sensory experiences are in play, learning, and connection. For me, nature play is one of the most powerful tools we have to regulate children’s nervous systems so they can play to their greatest ability, learn to their greatest potential, and connect in the deepest, most meaningful way they can.

Sensory-Rich Nature play

Did you know we have more sensory systems than the classic five: sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound? Kids have two more movement-based senses that are equally important to understanding their environment and thriving in their daily lives: the vestibular system and the proprioceptive system (or proprioception). When play and learning environments support all 7 senses, the benefits to children are
truly profound. What’s more, these benefits create a strong personal foundation they carry into adulthood. Sensory-rich nature play? Yes, please!