The Coast News Group
Workers at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad cut ranunculus blooms for bouquets that visitors can purchase in the gift shop. Last year’s entire crop had to be plowed under because the fields could not open to visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Columns Hit the Road

Hit the Road: The Flower Fields returns — with blueberry picking

As we pass through the portals of The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, I’ve got one thing on my mind: Blueberries.

Yes, strange but true. Blueberries. In March. In San Diego County.

For the first time, The Flower Fields is offering a U-Pick Blueberry patch (an acre and a half), certainly a unique attraction for these climes and times.

“There’s nowhere else in this area you can do that,” says General Manager Fred Clarke.

Unfortunately, though, we have arrived a bit too late — or early. Picking blueberries was so popular that all of the ripe ones were harvested by eager visitors as enthusiastic as I during the first few opening days.

“It doesn’t look like there will be picking again until the first week of April,” Clarke explains, “but that’s an estimate, trusting that the weather cooperates. The bushes are loaded with fruit now. They just aren’t ripe yet. They will set fruit under warmer conditions.”

Yes, I’m disappointed, but grateful for the upcoming second chance to sample the four varieties of warm-tolerant blueberries: Jewel, Emerald, Ventura and Snow Chaser.

Still, like a doubting Thomas, I have to see the bushes, so we walk to the north end of the 55 acres of brilliantly blooming Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers. We peer through the protective netting that keeps out marauding birds and I am assured; the bushes are heavy with fruit, plenty for the next round of berry pickers.

I make a mental note to mark my calendar for early, early April. (Visitors will be able to enter the blueberry patch from Cannon Road without entering the Flower Fields.)

The berry patch is only one of several things to see and do at The Flower Fields, which lay before us in bright pastel and iridescent stripes, visible from the road above and Interstate 5. Seeing the blooms at close range, though, is a treat; their double-layered petals remind me of the crepe paper flowers sold as souvenirs in Mexico, but denser.

The annual sprouting of The Flower Fields didn’t happen last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the entire globe to a standstill.

“We spent so much time getting ready last year and then we had to plow it under,” Clarke recalls painfully. “But this year might be even better than last because we’ve got more plants per acre, which means the color is denser.”

The 55 acres are planted over time so there are always plenty of blooms from opening day in March to Mother’s Day, this year on May 9. (The fields are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are a must.)

Visitors can walk the access roads proximate to the fields or take a tractor ride. Passengers are limited and plexiglass partitions are used to maintain social distancing. Other elements include a stunning exhibit garden with everything from annuals to succulents designed and maintained by San Diego Master Gardeners; a rose garden; a sweet pea maze; a cymbidium orchid greenhouse; a historic poinsettia display with some rarely seen varieties; aviaries that house doves finches and quail; selfie photo stations; and Santa’s playground.

“You know how they have Groundhog Day in the East?” Clarke asks. “Well, we’ve been working hard to make this a world-class floral experience. We want to be Southern California’s Groundhog Day.”

For more photos, visit www.facebook.com/elouise.ondash.

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