During springtime at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif., ranunculus bloom with reckless abandon on nearly 50 acres of terrain — and people flock in droves to see the transformation unfold.
Divided into color-blocked sections of red, white, purple, pink and yellow, along with some polychromatic areas, these striking flowers have an 85-plus year history that began when early settler and agronomist Luther Gage disseminated ranunculus seeds throughout the grounds. These seeds were not native to north San Diego’s rolling hills, but the flower variety and the region’s temperate weather provided a perfect match — hence, the yearly burst of color that materializes in early March and stays put until early May.
Directly walking among the flowers is forbidden — this prevents careless traipsing on the delicate blooms — so we meandered the aisles between grid-like plots of ranunculus, pausing intermittently to snap a photo or simply gaze at the loveliness before us.
A history lesson of the fields delivered onboard tractor-wagon rides is available for an extra fee, but we skipped this in favor of a pared-down exploration of our own. Guests can also discover a maze enveloped in sweet pea flowers; a greenhouse full of vibrant orchid plants; food and drink stalls selling strawberry ice cream and other refreshing goodies; and Armstrong Garden Center, where visitors can buy cheerful and inexpensive bunches of ranunculus to bring home.
Purchase tickets online to skip any long lines at the ticket office, and arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds (doors open at 9 a.m.).