This is a photo of a golden ranunculus.

Gold Ranunculus

In San Diego’s north county region, there is a glorious spectacle that comes only once a year each Spring. The growing fields, a full fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus,  start blooming in waves under warm southern California sunshine around the first of March like clockwork.

The Flower Fields, face the Pacific Ocean just east of Highway 5. Getting there is very easy from The Five and parking is free. The fields offer more than just show stopping Ranunculus; they have a miniature rose garden, an artist garden that changes every year, a Sweet Pea maze, tractor ride to the top of the field, a children’s playground featuring the darling play structures from the old Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead, the world famous Ecke poinsettia collection for history buffs and believe it or not, you can pan for gold on site.

This is a photo collage of some Sweet Pea flowers taken at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

As an oil painter witnessing the fields, my first thoughts went to Holland and the images I have seen of their Tulips…and there is no comparison! There is no way Holland could ever capture such a dazzling display of color due to the structure of tulips which only has one flower per bulb (unless it has become irregular).  Tulips provide a pale green background for “spot color” which can become more dramatic depending on the viewing angle. Tulips displays often use harmonizing ground covers such as Pansy and Johnny-Jump-Ups to hide the dirt between bulbs. Ranunculus, in contrast, have multiple sprays of flowers per plant which accounts for the broad sweeping strokes of color on the hillsides.

This is a photo of yellow Tulips in Golden Gate Park, SF, CA.

Tulips in Golden Gate Park, SF, CA

From a distance, the flowers merge into horizontal stripes of fantastic length. Part of me was hesitant to visit The Flower Fields it seemed too touristy, contrived, paying to walk through someone’s flower business seemed overrated –and ten bucks to roam around dirt roads near The Five? ….yeah! Well, it was the best bang ever for ten bucks! Guess who will be buying a visitor pass in 2011 so I can return with family and friends multiple times it’s that incredible!

This is a photo of the ranunculus growing in rows at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Broad Strokes of Color at The Flower Fields.

I took over three hundred photos that day with my digital camera. I did not want to leave but I was a guest and had my daughter and mother-in-law with me this day and I was holding up lunch plans. There is no need to rush once you are inside The Flower Fields and I recommend that you come early when the light is good for photography. Of my photos, I can’t say I have one favorite, no, I have at least 20 to 30 favorites! Each time you think you have found a beautiful shot of the fields, you turn to the other side of the road between growing beds and discover something else equally beautiful.

This is a photo of cut ranunculus in a white bucket.

Fresh Cut Ranunculus

I felt ALIVE out there amongst the beauty of these flowers. The ocean breeze was delightful and fresh.

The workers appear to be from Mexico and are mindful of their work. They ignore the tourist and actually add to your photos in a way you probably never imagined…let’s go back to Holland for a moment. Remember all those beautiful 15th through 19th century oil paintings of people cultivating the land? For example, Piet van der Velden’s “Workers in the Fields With Tulips” shows two figures planting tulip bulbs in the empty fields. Workers have always been featured in oil paintings and photos. Here are my visions of a modern day painting of workers in a field:

This is a photo of workers in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Like an oil painting of days gone by: "Workers in The Flower Fields"

This is a photo of workers and a truck in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

The Flower Field Workers

This is a photo of workers and tourists in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA.

Workers and Tourists Mingle in The Flower Fields

The Santa’s Village playground equipment and structures adds more to the play area for children and makes for great photo opportunities.

This is a photo collage of some of the playground equipment from Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead that was sold to The Flower Fields of Carlsbad, CA.

Santa's Village Playground - Photo Collage

Here is my daughter smelling a flower.

This is a photo of a little girl smelling a flower.


The dazzling array of colors from white, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and chocolate brown is best seen in person.

Dazzling, Colorful Ranunculus at The Flower Fields

Make sure your camera battery is charged and put it on your calendar for March 1, 2011. The Flower Fields are not open very long –just as long as the flowers are blooming which may be anywhere from 45 days to 60 days.


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