Larisa Code: “What smells better than fresh soil?”
Larisa Code, started early!
Larisa Code, landscape designer, gardener, community green gal and all-around Earth lover’s bio begins simply: “Larisa Code has been an avid gardener her entire life.” And so she has.
She no only uses her own home and garden as a real-life working and experiment on green gardening and eco-gardening. She balances designing the gardens of Hollywood’s glitterati with working on school and community gardens in Los Angeles. Her is a bit of her fun story…
You say you have loved gardening all your life, how did you fall in love with gardening?
It was a natural progression. My family always composted. My father would pull over and take people’s leaves and grass from their trash and add it to our compost. We grew vegetables and shared them with our neighbors. My baby food was made by my mother, out of vegetables from her garden. My mother canned vegetables and made homemade jams and applebutter. My grandmother did the same and so did my great aunts. Before that, my relatives on both sides were farmers. It is in my blood! Besides, what smells better than fresh soil? It is so delicious and alive!
I love the picture on your site with your ‘farm stand’ so cute. How did it go? With did you do with the millions?
Hah! It went well, that year I had a slinky and silly putty!!!
How did you go from enthusiast to professional landscape designer?
All of my careers up until now (there have been many, English teacher, chiropractor, personal assistant, bartender…) left me feeling physically drained. I was unhealthy and unhappy.There was only one consistent theme in my life, I was constantly gardening, landscaping every place I lived. Always growing veggies, it was my therapy. Then, a friend said, why not put an ad on Craigslist and see if you get any jobs…so i did, and I did!!! What I need, to be happy, is to make a living being creative. I am not even sure that I have found my exact niche yet, but I am getting there.
What influences your design?
When I look at a yard, the first thing I look for is what beauty exists already; a plant, trees, colors, rocks, then I build from there, always trying to integrate existing plants (I hate killing plants). Every yard has a different energy, sometimes chaotic, sometimes a bit flat, and I want to make the energy flow, for the yard to feel like a haven. Finally, I always consult my mom on the feng shui of the yard based on my layout.
Of course, the house style and what the client desires come into play…
Why organic and eco?
My sister (Aimee Code) has dedicated her entire life to stopping the use of herbicides and insecticides…saving the salmon in Oregon, creating herbicide and insecticide free green spaces for children to play, as well as keeping farm workers safe. It is important that everyone tries to help this cause in whatever form they can. This is my way.
Nature is beautiful and the last thing I want to do, is to participate in the destruction
of our beautiful planet.
When I started, Craigslist, now, Angie’s List, thanks to an amazing client adding my information to the site.
Tell me about your school garden projects?
I am more than proud of the program!!! This is a program I developed 8 years ago and it is still going strong. Ages run from 2 to 11. It is currently running in 4 schools, a total of 7 classes. The children learn to plant and care for a garden based on the seasons and their own design scheme (usually some sort of fabulous vegetable chaos). Once the garden is established, they learn to create meals from what they grew. They also dig and install an underground compost. After the first few weeks, once they get into the groove of gardening, I can stop what I am doing at any moment and watch the children working and snacking on vegetables that are growing around them, it is kind of amazing and incredibly beautiful.
Right now I am working with a homeless shelter for women and children, setting up a similar program.
How did it begin? What are the challenges? Rewards?
This too began on a whim. I was sick of my job, so I created this program and pitched it to an afterschool program and a pre-school.
The biggest challenge is budget. It gets cut every year. I taught an entire year with a budget of $0. That was a painful year and not that fun for the kids. I did my best, asking for donations, using my own money, but it is impossible to support a program with 50 kids on nothing. The other challenge is, once we get the garden looking pretty, the teachers always want it back! We get moved around all of the time. But at least the kids learn how to transplant!!
If you could landscape design any garden: private or public what/whose would it be?
I want to landscape all of the vacant lots around big cities. It has been an ongoing dream of mine. Make it a place where kids can come and plant or eat edible flowers, people can take what they need in trade for caring for the garden…a place that attracts natural habitat…but not just a giant lot with vegetable beds, an urban eden, for everybody. I mean, it would be really pretty, actually, breathtaking is a better word.
How can someone like me, who cannot grow even the simplest plant or anything it all, begin a garden?
Just get a can, put some holes in the bottom, fill it with an organic potting soil, stick in a nasturtium seed and put it somewhere sunny. When you stick your finger in the dirt and it feels dry, add water. This has to be one of the easiest plants to grow and it is edible…the flowers are stunning and yummy (the leaves are edible too).
If that works, get some more cans and plant some more things…once you see how easy it is, maybe you will have the guts to transplant them into the soil. Just be sure to add some good organic dirt to the bed before you transplant and of course water regularly.
Oh yeah, don’t use the pots as ashtrays…a common mistake.
Anything I left out? Something you would like to add.
I really enjoyed answering your questions, thanks for your interest! xo