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By Roger Boddaert
Special to Village News 

Visit The Flower Fields of Carlsbad

 

Last updated 4/2/2020 at 1:23pm

Village News/Roger Boddaert photos

The first section of ranunculus begins to flower mid-March at The Flower Fields of Carlsbad.

San Diego County has many great horticultural venues that grow all types of plants in the Mediterranean climate of Southern California.

The Carlsbad Flower Fields is one of spring's most floriferous fields that grows a bounty of flowers year after year.

This all began when Luther Gage settled in the area in the early 1920s and introduced the ranunculus flowers which eventually began known as the Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bulbs. The Spanish name Tecolote came from the owls that nested high up in the trees on his farm.

The Gage flower farm was next to the property of Frank Frazee, a small vegetable grower, and he too started growing other bulbs on his ranch like gladiolus. The young son of Frazee, Edwin, joined his father in the cultivation of this burgeoning flower operation. This young entrepreneur expanded a portion of his flower operation to the Santa Margarita Ranch on what eventually would become the Camp Pendleton.

Originally the flowers were a single layer of petals which ranged in shades of red and yellow. By the 1950s, the success in breeding a superior ranunculus tuber with more colors and created "double" forms, and he became the largest bulb grower of this type in the world.

These full flowers resulted in 13 beautiful new colors, including picotee, a mixture of variegated colors that gardeners have today and enjoy in their gardens.

The flower fields moved on in 1965, and 50 acres was purchased in the Carlsbad region overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Highway 101.

When Edwin Frazee retired, a joint venture was formed with Paul Ecke Jr. along with the Mellano and Company to concentrate on growing and managing and looking at tourism as an essential way to keep the ranunculus fields financially viable. Hence, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch was born and now is a national jewel to behold.

The Flower Fields are a working ranch that not only grows flowers for the cut flower trade, which are shipped throughout the country, but also cultivate the tubers and distribute them around the world to be raised as flowering potted plants. They are also sold for the homeowner to grow as one of spring's most colorful blossoms.

The season starts in September when the first block of tiny seeds is sown directly into the sandy soils and takes six months from seeding to full bloom with diligent stewardship and nurturing by a dedicated team.

I volunteered for several years in the fields as a docent. I had many memorable experiences, especially working with school children who were bussed in from near and far to go through the "hands-on" environmental educational programs, and it was most rewarding.

This educational program was sharing with them the experience of recycling, reusing, backyard composting, vermicomposting and becoming Earth's stewards of the future. There are many learning projects the children take back to their schools to continue.

There is a Sweet Pea Maze, where visitors can be submerged into the aromatic smells of spring while walking through the sweet pea plantings.

There are many educational flower beds on display with numerous roses, trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and also a large stage with seating to hear joyous musical acts and watch arts and crafts shows.

As they stroll about, visitors can encounter flowers of all types from the exotic cymbidium orchids to the poinsettia greenhouse where they can see the latest in holiday poinsettia varieties.

A central garden area brings them into display flower beds and plants with seasonal colors that will knock their socks off. In this area there are two large aviary pens with quail, pigeons, doves, finches, parrots and what an experience to be within inches of this thrilling highlight.

Village News/Roger Boddaert photos

Many colorful orchids can be seen on display at the flower fields.

A replica of the American flag is also planted on the south end of the fields with thousands of red-white-and-blue petunias. Taking up about an acre of land, it is a glorious sight that lasts for months.

These few words that my pen shares cannot justify the magnificent Flower Fields of Carlsbad. So if you want to take a few moments of peace by experiencing over 900 colorful photos, I suggest you experience the virtual flower tour at https://www.theflowerfields.com.

Spring is here, and the temps are getting a little warmer to be out in the garden to enjoy some fresh air and all the wonders that nature gives everyone.

Keep the faith my friends for we are all in this together and be kind, thoughtful, and helpful to one another for this too shall pass and brighter days lie ahead.

Roger Boddaert is a landscape designer and if you have any garden questions, you can contact him at [email protected] or (760) 728-4297. 

 

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