Special to the Village News
In the community of Carlsbad exists 100 years of cultivated flora history and, today, ranunculus flowers grow in profusion on that land to anoint the earth with vibrant colorful flowers in springtime. The land has supported vegetables and gladiolus blooms for years and is now dedicated to the ranunculus flowers from Asia Minor on 50 acres of prime real estate. The grounds are now set aside as an agricultural preserve and will remain forever as a working farm, which is a good thing.
The ranunculus flower collection is in the buttercup family and has 13 soft pastel colors with a mixture of variegated hues and tones.
Luther Gage was a visionary who loved Carlsbad and had a five-acre nursery in the early 1900s where he grew cut gladiolus flowers for the Los Angeles wholesale floral market.
His passion for growing flowers also included freesia, anemone, and gladiolas. He had an opportunity to purchase some ranunculus seeds from friends in England and started a business called "Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus Bulbs." The name "Tecolote" came from the owls that nest on this coastal Mediterranean property.
Gage hired Earl Frazee as his foreman and, as the flower business grew, Frazee eventually bought the company from Gage and focused on the ranunculus flowers as his main crop, which grew as cut flowers and tuber-like bulbs.
The land is now owned by Paul Ecke company (of Poinsettia fame), and the Mellano Flower growers were brought in to manage and grow these as cut flowers to be shipped across America.
The plants are grown from tiny seeds directly sown into the sandy loam soil in early fall, and then more seeds are planted every few weeks to elongate the flowering season until May.
The plants produce small tubers, and after the flower crop has finished, the tubers are lifted, cleaned, graded, packaged, and sent all over the world to nurseries and global flower growers.
The flower fields begin blooming in early March and continue through May.
Cut flowers can also be purchased as you leave the fields to take home and elongate your memories of the beautiful Carlsbad Flower Fields.
The fields offer a great educational experience for youngsters who are bused in from around the county and given multiple opportunities to learn about nature through hands-on workshops. From learning how to compost, wandering through a Sweet-Pea maze, painting, raising worms, and caring for small plants to take home.
Go online to see the broad spectrum of fun things to do, and you'll come away greatly enriched from your horticultural visit.
You can take an old fashioned wagon ride around the entire flower fields and take pictures to bring home and share with friends. But please stay on the paths, not into the fields, for your safety and the growing flowers.
This is a working farm, and before the gates open, the harvesting team picks the fresh flowers which are then shipped across the country to flower shops.
On Mother's Day, May 14, there will be festive dancing, singing, and a joyous outing for you and your Mom on the center stage, so give her a floral experience she will cherish and remember.
The fields are open daily until May 14, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with free parking. The Flower Fields address is 5704 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad CA 92006
For additional information, you can call 760-930-9123 or go online to reserve your tickets at http://www.theflowerfields.com.
Roger Boddaert, landscape horticulturist, can be reached at [email protected] for consultation and garden coaching.