In Full Bloom
It’s that time of year to take yourself out of the ordinary and spend a few hours in one of nature’s wonders – the local Fields of Dreams – The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch®. The coastal icon is a place where kids can run amok and adults can casually and pleasantly linger. The 50 acres of extraordinary color in bloom on that hillside the 92009 community knows so well, that overlooks the edge of the continent, is upon us. New and past visitors will be stunned this year by the 80 million ranunculus in full bloom. Joni Miringoff, Group Sales and Special Events Director, shared the history, planting process, scheduled events and, most importantly, the happiness the fields bring to visitors. The season is here. Bring your camera, smiles, sunscreen, sweet pea maze intuition and taste buds. The fields are alive and eager to host and allow for visitors to experience spectacular displays of color that will take your breath away.
What is the length of the season?
Miringoff: We are open for 10 weeks each spring during the blooming season of the ranunculus flower. Our season is annually, March 1 through Mother’s Day.
What is your role as the Group Sales/Special Events Director?
Miringoff: To introduce people to the location and to make ensure everyone has
a wonderful experience.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
Miringoff: Definitely experiencing fields through our visitors and volunteers’ eyes – and knowing that the fields are a happy place for all.
If you could enhance any part of the attractions or programs in place in any way, what would you like to see happen?
Miringoff: We have an awesome barn for weddings and galas and I would like to build on that. I would also like to develop additional sponsorships for low income schools to visit us, and participate in our growing programs.
Miringoff: The color and beauty of the fields remind us of the power of Mother Nature and brings us a sense of peace, renewal and hope.
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch® has changed its color pattern the past couple years. Please tell us about this and what visitors can expect.
Our color pattern changed last year so this will be the second season of the new scheme. For the last 15 years, our color pattern was a based on contrasting bands of color. Last year, after considerable evaluation, we started planting in graduated colors like a rainbow in order to further bring out the full beauty of the flowers.
How are the fields affiliated with the City of Carlsbad?
Miringoff: They are part of a property called Carlsbad Ranch. As part of the approval of the Carlsbad Ranch project in 1993, the City made an agreement with the property owner to preserve The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch®.
Do you have a partnership with the Carlsbad Outlets or any of the adjacent businesses/resorts?
Miringoff: Yes. We have a cohesive working relationship with many businesses and resorts in San Diego.
Are you in need of volunteers? If so, what roles are you looking to fill?
Miringoff: We have over 150 volunteers. We are fortunate to have an outstanding group of people who make sure the fields are a happy place to visit.
How are the fields funded? How can one contribute?
Miringoff: They are supported by the many visitors we have in the spring. We have a wonderful school growing program for elementary school children and we always need sponsors for low income schools.
Do you provide education opportunities, field trips, activities for scouts, and
Miringoff: We are committed to providing children with quality education that brings agriculture and gardening into the classroom and at the fields. The Seed and Bulb Growing Program is designed for preschool through 2nd grade students and has three different plan options. Our Investigative Program is for 3rd through 5th graders.
Are there any new things this year in the works for the season visitors should be aware of?
Do you have any unique or interesting facts about The Flower Fields® to share with our readers?
Miringoff: The episode featuring the fields is the most watched segment of the California Gold television series with Huell Howser. During our 2013 season we expect to have over 80 million ranunculus blooming!
The fields today are a direct result of nearly 100 years of floral cultivation that began when Luther Gage, an early settler and horticulturist settled in the area in the early 1920’s. Mr. Gage brought ranunculus seeds to the area and began growing them in his fields next to Frank Frazee’s farm in South Oceanside. This started a business called “Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus Bulbs”. The name “Tecolote” came from the owls that nested on his property.
When fire destroyed the modest Frazee ranch on the inland shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the family was forced to move to Oceanside where Frank Frazee began growing freesia bulbs to make ends meet. At that time, freesias were in high demand, and Frank took advantage of inexpensive land leased by the city to expand his crop. In 1933, the elder Frazee added ranunculus to his crop and introduced son Edwin to the art of seeding, cultivating and irrigating the pretty but less popular flower. At the age of 16, Edwin Frazee quit high school to work full time on his father’s burgeoning flower operation.
Over the next several years, Edwin settled into the farming life, and the family expanded its fields to Santa Margarita Ranch, on what eventually became Camp Pendleton Marine base. With his daily experience in the fields making up for a lack of formal schooling, Edwin became adept at continually improving his ranunculus crop.
Originally, the flowers were single petal and ranged in shades of red and yellow. The beautiful colors and fullness of the flowers seen today are due to the careful selection done by Edwin over many years. If nature provided a full flower or an unusual color, Edwin would save the seed and plant them the following year. This resulted in full flowers in thirteen beautiful colors including picotee, (a mixture of variegated colors) that visitors see today.
By the 1950’s, Edwin’s success at breeding a superior ranunculus bulb and a more colorful flower, with an unprecedented infusion of petals, known as a “double”, eluded his competitors and left him as the only commercial ranunculus grower in the United States. He also became a leading grower of gladiolus, and the brightly colored fields at the Santa Margarita Ranch became an attraction to visitors passing by Oceanside on old Highway 101.
Concluding that ranunculus thrived best in a mild climate and sandy, well-drained soil, Edwin expanded his ranunculus crop south to the Ponto region of Carlsbad. Paired with equally stunning spears of brightly colored gladiolus, the site quickly grew as a popular tourist attraction, even gaining the attention of photographers for National Geographic™ Magazine. Edwin and his workers soon found much of their time taken up by politely, but firmly, rebuffing visitors who began helping themselves to free bouquets of gladiolus and ranunculus.
Unimpressed with the publicity surrounding the blossoms he worked so long and hard to create, Edwin once said, “If I had one penny for every picture that’s been taken of those fields, I’d be a rich man.” In 1965, he again moved the ranunculus growing operation to the current site and continued raising ranunculus
In 1993 with Edwin had a desire to retire, Paul Ecke Jr. formed a joint venture with grower Mellano & Company® to concentrate on growing beautiful flowers for the whole world to enjoy. Paul looked at tourism as an important way to keep the ranunculus fields financially viable. The stage was set for the enduring preservation and promotion of the enchanting cultural emblem of Carlsbad. Hence, the birth of The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch®. Quickly thereafter, in 1999, Armstrong Garden Centers at The Flower Fields® was set to sell the products.
In 2004, Edwin passed away, but his goal of the ranunculus living on beyond his death was achieved. His presence is felt when spring arrives and the ranunculus bloom into blazing fields of color. From its humble beginnings in Luther Gage’s flower beds to one of San Diego County’s most enduring and recognizable landmarks, the fields continue to showcase nature’s artistry and symbolize the diligence of the region’s most important and colorful pioneers. Today, the fields represent the ideal synthesis of a robust working ranch and a regional tourist attraction. Due to the continued benevolence and foresight of the Ecke family, The Flower Fields® will continue to be a national jewel – an attraction enjoyed for many future generations.
Kids’ Day – April 7
Ronald McDonald will help to make Kid’s Day an unforgettable event! Kids can enjoy face painting, and Gourd Art and Crafts will be for sale plus free demonstrations for all!
Bluegrass Day – April 13
1 – 4:00p.m.
Family and friends will enjoy a full day of Bluegrass music and arts and crafts. Come and enjoy a musical journey of guitar, banjo and fiddle!
Zydeco Day – April 14
1 – 4:00p.m.
This popular accordion-based musical genre hailing from the prairies of south-central and southwest Louisiana will be sure to make for a memorable day!
Jazz Day – April 20
Enjoy one of the nation’s premier traditional youth jazz bands, the award winning Mission Bay High School Jazz Band. This exciting group performs early New Orleans Jazz, blues, and swing.
Canon Photography Workshop – April 21
Come and celebrate the beauty of The Flower Fields® with Canon USA at a macro photography workshop.
Blues Day – April 27
1 – 4:00p.m.
A Blues Pro All Star Jam. This spectacular afternoon of blues entertainment features some of the finest musicians in the community that are locally and internationally renowned.
Red Hat Ladies’ Day & Style Show – April 27
An event celebrating the Red Hat Society with a spectacular fashion show, wagon ride, refreshments
and door prizes.
Bonsai Show and Sale – May 11 & 12
Enjoy the unique blending of art and horticulture at our bonsai exhibition and sale.
Mother’s Day Celebration – May 12
Join us on the final day of our season for Mother’s day.
[tabs style=”1″] [tab title=” 92009 Cover Family”]
Parents: Tonya Rodzach (40), John Stires (43)
Daughter: Ruby Stires (7), La Costa Meadows Elementary School
Community: Carlsbad since 2002
Occupations: Tonya – Arts Education Coordinator, City of Carlsbad
John – Scientist, Chemistry
Pets: Teddy, hamster; Alexa, beta fish
Favorite local activities: Participating in local art-related activities, spending time outside, reading, visiting the Cannon Art Gallery, Carlsbad City Library complex, The Forum, BJ’s, the beach, and Batiquitos Lagoon[/tab] [tab title=”At A Glance”]
Full Name: The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch®
Location: 5704 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Phone: 760-930-9123 or 760-431-0352 (hotline)
Hours: March 1 through May 12 (Mother’s Day)
daily from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.[/tab] [tab title=”By the Numbers”]
# of Employees: 40 staff and five gardeners every season.
# of Volunteers: 160
# of Visitors: More than 120,000
# of ranunculus seeds planted: Over 100 million
# of ranunculus flowers that bloom : Over 80 million[/tab] [tab title=”Attractions”]
- Antique Tractor Wagon Rides
- Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse
- The Artist Gardens
- American Flag of Flowers
- Sweet Pea Maze
- Santa’s Playground
- Carlsbad Mining Company
- Historic Poinsettia Display
- Water Wise Farming