Carlsbad’s Colour Wheel – San Diego County, CA

Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Red, rose, merlot; pink, purple, picotee; flame, orange, yellow; champagne, snow, white. You couldn’t find a wilder colour wheel except on the palette of a charismatic painter. And yet, these various hues flourish in harmony across the hills of Carlsbad every spring.

This year, for the first time in 15 years, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch have changed their colour pattern due to a professional colourist.

From March until May, a multicoloured tapestry of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers blooms over 50 acres of a usually beige landscape. Known for their layers of tissue thin petals and lacy green leaves, ranunculus flowers come brilliantly coloured in so many hues. Because they are pollonless and odourless, they are non allergenic… and don’t atract bees!

In the Victorian language of flowers, the ranunculus intends to say, “I am dazzled by your charms.” This could be why many wedding bouquets include this flower.

Located about 40 minutes north of San Diego’s downtown, 1.5 hours south of LA, the 60-year old Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are one of the only surviving agricultural businesses in the area. The surrounding land sold out to residential and commercial developments.

Freshly squeezed lemonade at the Flower Fields

Only two percent of the ranunculus — almost a million flower stems — are sold as cut flowers; the rest produce bulbs for garden centres and nurseries. Almost 6 to 8 million bulbs are harvested annually .

After spring, the farm is closed to the public. The flowers dry and die, while the bulbs store energy until mid summer, when workers dig them up and prepare them for sale. Planting starts again from September until January.

The fields also feature an Artist Garden, a Sweet Pea Maze, a Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse, a Poinsettia Display, and an All-American Rose Garden.

I hope these pictures will brighten your week.

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.  ~Gertrude S. Wister

The Artist Garden wasdesigned by painter Patricia Patterson, who was inspired by Medieval cloistered gardens.

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.  ~Gerard de Nerval

An attention-grabbing Protea

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.   ~Buddha

The fragrant ‘Chrysler Imperial’ is a hybrid tea rose. Created in 1952 by Walter Lammerts, it won the All-America Rose Selections in 1953.

The nature of this flower is to bloom. ~ Alice Walker 

A sunny layer of Arctotis, a South African native

One of the most attractive things about the flowers is their beautiful reserve. ~ Henry David Thoreau  

The flower is the poetry of reproduction.  It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life. ~ Jean Giraudoux  

Tropical temperatures in the Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. ~ Kozuko Okakura

Cushion Type Chrysanthemums are delightful.

The flower that follows the sun does so even in cloudy days. ~ Robert Leighton

Rows of ranunculus

The earth laughs in flowers. ~ ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Sweet Pea Maze

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ~ Claude Monet

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin

While considered by the ancient Aztecs to be symbols of purity, in today’s language of flowers, red, white or pink poinsettias, the December birth flower, symbolize good cheer and success and are said to bring wishes of mirth and celebration. ~ Teleflora

Ecke Poinsettias displayed in the their own 1500-square-foot greenhouse

Just living is not enough… One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. ~ Hans Christian Andersen

Flowers growing around the Armstrong Garden Centre gift shop

Flowers growing around the Armstrong Garden Centre gift shop

I like to think a flower opens itself to outgrow its plantedness.  That it yearns to be carried away.  ~Author Unknown

Exit at the Armstrong Garden Centre…


55 thoughts on “Carlsbad’s Colour Wheel – San Diego County, CA

  1. What a beautiful place Marina! Fabulous pictures. I love the B&W and the photos of the clematis and the poppies particularly, really nicely composed and executed. The quotes and the commentary as ever, add so much. Excellent post!

    • Thank you so much! The black and white one – I could visualise it as a monochrome whilst I was taking it! The orchids are just spectacular – such vibrant and luscious blooms. I appreciate the comment about the quotes and commentary 🙂

  2. You can’t be unhappy being in such a place! It must have been so cool to be there and enjoy the colours of spring! Thanks for brightening up my Monday 🙂

    • My pleasure Kristina – Happy Monday! It’s true – you can’t help but smile and feel ‘brighter’ in a space like that. Especially when the ocean can be seen from a distance too! Thanks!

    • Thanks Val! I should have shared that a few hours in the Flower Fields = a tan. From that one day, I gained some colour from the sun… in March! Glad you enjoyed the photos 🙂

    • Thanks 2 Rivers, for your comment! I urge you to go before the end of April; when I was there, only 50% of the flowers were in bloom. So I can’t imagine the abundance of colour there now. I look forward to seeing your photos!

  3. I think this post was meant just for me! I LIVE for flowers and your photos are *once again* spectacular – you really have an amazing way to capture true feeling with your camera Marina – great opening quote too! xo Happy Monday! 😉

  4. I have never seen fields in bloom like that. What an incredible sight! And so worth opening the large images to see those incredible swaths of colour in full glory!
    Like painted fields. Stunning.

    Thanks Marina, gorgeous post!

    • Thanks Karen! I too have started opening images to larger size: the difference makes it worth it. I’ve always lusted after tulip fields and sunflower fields; these are as close as I have gotten. Thanks again 🙂

    • It was so cool to be in the space as I have always wanted to see a field of flowers. I feel this could be the tip of the iceberg – I have sights set on more flower fields in future! Thank you!

  5. Marina I was just there yesterday. Isn’t it amazing the ray of colors, it is just like wow, felt transformed into a painter’s mind, what do you do with all those colors? As a photographer I feel the same. Your pictures are beautiful. I’ll send you my upcoming post soon

    • That’s so wonderful that you visited too! I agree – the colours are spectacular and they work so well together. I really look forward to your post! So glad to be able to share a related experience with you 🙂 Thank you!

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