Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A RIOT OF RANUNCULUS


Perched on the sandy cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean is the charming village of Carlsbad located in northern San Diego County.  The views west toward the ocean always fill me with peace, and in the springtime so do the views facing east.  Because in spring, the ranunculus are in bloom.  Acres of them.  Huge rainbow stripes of flowers in butter yellows, rich reds, vibrant oranges, snow whites, deep luscious purples, and sweet pinks undulating over the landscape in the gentle ocean breezes.

On a particularly spectacular day last week, my friend Susan and I drove up to Carlsbad to have lunch and spend the afternoon wandering around the Fields.  I hadn't been there for a few years and the surprises began when we paid $10 at the gate.  "Was it that much last time?" we asked each other.  Then when I looked around I could see how much the Flower Fields' attractions have expanded since the last time I visited. They've added a sweet pea maze for the children, a flower garden and greenhouses showcasing cymbidium and poinsettia varieties (from Paul Ecke's farms), plus tram rides around the property.

I also learned some history of the Fields I hadn't known before.  On some well illustrated signs I read that the property was purchased in 1929 by Edwin Frazee.  The land had been slated for a housing community but the plan fell through when the stock market crashed.  It proved to be a perfect location for  Edwin Frazee and his ranuculus farm however, and he spent the next few decades developing multiple strains of this lovely flower starting from a single petal to multi petal varieties.  Ten years ago, the fields opened to the public for a few months in spring, and became a popular tourist attraction, which we now know as the Flower Fields of Carlsbad.

As we strolled around the ranuculus we noticed that there would frequently be an errant colored flower sprinkled among the other colors.  I understood that ranunculus were bulb plants so I stopped the first attendant we saw and asked if the flowers were from seed or bulbs.  He said they were both!  He explained that they are first planted with seed then the flowers are allowed to go through a complete growing cycle.  When they've begun to die back, the bulbs they form (actually tuberous roots) are harvested and sold throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

It turned out to be a perfect day and a perfect photo op.    You can't beat Mother Nature for artistry! (And,it was $10 well spent.)



You can see the ocean over the village of Carlsbad.







This is a great example of the different varieties of ranuculus.





Cymbidium


One of several Paul Ecke's variety of Poinsettia.

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