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The 2024 bloom at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad is particularly vibrant this year because of early rains and favorable temperatures. The fields are open until Mother’s Day on May 12. Photo by E’Louise Ondash
ColumnsHit the Road

Color at Flower Fields ‘will knock your socks off’

The time to see the splendor of the Flower Fields in Carlsbad is now, says head gardener Fred Clarke, who is nothing less than ecstatic about the current state of this year’s bloom.

“The color will knock your socks off,” he says of the 50 acres of Tecolote Giant ranunculus, planted in wide, vibrant, north-south bands that parallel Interstate 5. “This is my 18th year here and the color has never looked this good at this time.”

The pattern of the rainstorms this year brought forth the ranunculus blooms a bit earlier than usual.

“Even though it was a bit darker and wetter (than in previous years), it wasn’t super cold,” Clarke says. “And it was a couple of degrees warmer at night. A couple of degrees can add up. Some years we stay open an extra week (past Mother’s Day), but this year, I’m not feeling it.”

Each of the 50 acres along Interstate 5 holds 200,000 ranunculus plants and more than 2 million blossoms. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

The ranunculi not only bloomed earlier than usual, but a lot more vibrantly too.

“The color and density are outrageous,” Clarke says. “There are so many plants with so many flowers, which means color like never before. It’s really breathtaking.”

That translates to even more blooms than the usual 2 million per acre.

Bottom line: “The next three or four weeks will be without compare,” Clarke says. “We can change your mood. You’ll just feel a few pounds lighter if you come.”

Floral arbors, multiple gardens, a poinsettia exhibit, a playground, picnic areas, food booths and a sweet pea maze are all a part of the Flower Fields experience, which runs through May 12. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

Visitors who schedule a weekend visit will have the option of enjoying Picnic + Flowers, an event that offers box lunches under shade structures, reserved parking, a private entrance, free wagon rides, live music and a family fun zone with interactive games. Seatings are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Have special dietary needs?

No problem, says Lauren Kimmons, owner of Pop Up Picnic Co., which is catering the picnics.

“We understand that sometimes people have multiple restrictions, and if we know ahead of time, we can accommodate.”

The company caters to many dietary restrictions including vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Kimmons understands the difficulties of eating out.

“I share a whole host of dietary intolerances,” including gluten and dairy, she says. “All the gluten-free items are prepared first and separately, and everything is stored separately. We don’t want anyone stressed out about contamination.”

To make a reservation for the picnic lunch at the Flower Fields, visit

For more photos and discussion, visit 

While the 50 acres of Tecolote Giant ranunculus at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad are spectacular, there are plenty of other featured flowers in several garden exhibits, including this explosion of geraniums. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

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