Mother Earth has produced Instagrammable displays of vibrant, colorful rows of blooms along the rolling hills of The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch — the prelude to the arrival of spring — for more than 60 years.
For 10 weeks — March 1 through May 12 — 10 million giant Tecolote ranunculus plants will welcome visitors to explore the 50-acre seasonal, working farm.
With the onslaught of the recent winter storms, the team at The Flower Fields have been keeping a close watch on the health and development of the popular floral garden.
“We’re excited to see that the fields have been responding very well with the recent rains in our area,” said Fred Clarke, general manager of The Flower Fields. “The gentle, steady water, combined with intermittent sunshine bodes very well for germination and the growth of our ranunculus plants. We are seeing pops of beautiful pink and yellow flowers making their earlier debut.”
Last year, more than 260,000 people walked the grounds of one of San Diego’s most recognizable landmarks.
“I have been here 30 years and I still get so excited as the opening date approaches,” said Joni Miringoff, the farm’s special-events director. “I love the planning that goes into the season and then I get to experience all of it when we open. The Flower Fields is so unique and beautiful, and the beauty and tranquility draws people from all over the world.”
The history of The Flower Fields dates back nearly 100 years when a grower by the name of Luther Gage settled in the area back in the early 1920s. He planted ranunculus seeds in a patch of land in South Oceanside, and those seeds brought forth a business he called “Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bulbs.” The patented ranunculus Tecolote — which means owl in Spanish — was named for the owls that nested near Gage’s property.
In addition to the ranunculus and family attractions, including Santa’s Playground and a mining station, the venue features roses, orchids, poinsettias, a sweet-pea maze and The Artist Gardens, a garden illustrated with flowers as an art medium.
“The place comes alive on the weekends with events and music and just pure happiness,” Miringoff said. “You cannot be grumpy and be at The Flower Fields. If you are, I guarantee you will leave happy.”
To help you plan your day, here are five things you need to know about The Flower Fields:
The Flower Fields is debuting several new events, including Holi: the Festival of Colors featuring Indian food, music and dance, vendors and live entertainment on March 24; Flower Flow Yoga, a day of community and beauty on March 30; Picnic in the Flowers, featuring baskets of amazing cheese or crudités, sandwiches and dessert on April 4; and Hey Sugar, Hello Cookie featuring handcrafted vendors alongside sweet treats and food on April 7. A variety of workshops, including Puppy Flower, where guests will create a puppy with carnations in its own basket filled with greens, pompoms, mini carnations and statice.
What to see
There are other flowers and plants to see, including an American Flag of Flowers display made of red, white and blue petunias, a cymbidium orchid greenhouse and a water-wise farming exhibit. Watch "Legacy of Color," a screening about the vibrant history of The Flower Fields held in the Paul Ecke Jr. Barn.
How to get around
There’s no better way to see the splendor of the rainbow-colored blooms than by foot. Visitors will find designated pathways throughout the fields. For visitors with walking difficulties, you can get a bird’s-eye view of the flowers on board an antique tractor-drive wagon. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3-10.
Where to eat
Vending machines are available during the weekdays. Food trucks will be onsite from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends. The lineup includes Dang Brother’s Pizza (March 23, 21, April 14, 21 and 28), Organic Food Truck (March 30), Papas Locas (April 6), Sushi Ono (April 13), Cousins Maine Lobster (April 20), Simply Fresh Food Truck (April 27) and Z’s Buddies Sushi (May 4). Picnicking is also encouraged. There are several picnic areas on the premises.
The fields will also host various weekly special events weekly, including live musical performances, Kids' Day on March 23, Blues Day on March 31, Green Business Expo on April 17, Easter Sunrise Service on April 21 and a Mother's Day celebration on closing day, May 12.
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
When: Opens Friday. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through May 12.
Where: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad.
Cost: $18 adults; $16 seniors 60 and older and military; $9 children 3-10; free for children 2 and under. Season passes available. Parking is free.
Phone: (760) 431-0352.