Flowers are all the rage in California this year. Our rainy winter brought a super bloom heralding spring that increased the wildflower population, those in your garden, and the flower fields around Southern California. Let’s look at two great places to visit for super blooms.
Super Bloom at Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
For those wildflower enthusiasts, the bloom came late and will likely continue through May. I went to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve at the end of March and right after the rains. The flowers were beginning to pop. Having been before, I was used to the orange poppies cascading over the hills, but this year it was fields of yellow with a smattering of orange here and there. The snow-capped mountains in the distance offset the bright yellowy-orange colors.
My last visit to the Poppy Reserve was in 2019 at the end of the season. I was enamored with the vista of orange blossoms that covered the trails. It is a wonder why the California State Flower is the orange poppy. Remember, it is against the law to pick poppies in California.
History of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
In the 1940s, Jane Pinheiro, a resident of the Antelope Valley and wildflower artist, became concerned that the rapid growth in the Antelope Valley might endanger the native wildflowers, especially the California Poppy, California’s state flower. Her dream was to create a “Poppy Park.” By 1963, Jane and the Lancaster Women’s Club members established Antelope Valley Wildflower Center.
It was in the late 1960s that a botanist from U.C. Davis declared after visiting the center that the wildflowers should be protected. Around that time, the Resources Agency of the California Department of Parks and Recreation recommended in a report that the best location for a state park designed to preserve the state flower was around the Antelope and Fairmont Buttes. Pinheiro suggested that the Wildflower Preservation Committee raise funds to buy land for a “Poppy Park,” which was done through a campaign called “Pennies for Poppies.”
In 1976 Poppy Park because a reality with its dedication of 1763 acres of land called the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. In 1982 the Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center was dedicated to the reserve.
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve lies in the Mojave desert near Lancaster, California. There are eight miles of trails to enjoy the blooms.
The Flower Fields of Carlsbad
This year I also visited The Flower Fields of Carlsbad for the first time. This spectacle was a wonder to see, with the ranunculus springing forth in all its grandeur. Rows of pink, yellow, red, and orange wow your senses.
A member of the buttercup family, ranunculus is native to Asia Minor. The flowers were single-petal and ranged in color from red and yellow.
History of The Flower Fields
It began about 85 years ago when Luther Gage, a horticulturist, settled in the area in the 1920s and started growing them in South Oceanside. Neighbor Frank Frazee, in 1933, became interested in ranunculus and started growing them. His son, Edwin, also became interested in cultivating the flowers. It is Edwin that developed the various colors and fullness of the flower. Today ranunculus comes in thirteen colors.
Edwin moved many times over the years, and in 1965, he moved his ranunculus and gladiolus to their current site, land owned by the Ecke Family of Encinitas. They were using the land to grow poinsettias. In the 1960s, they moved the poinsettias into greenhouses. In 1993 Paul Ecke Jr. came up with the idea of utilizing tourism to keep the fields viable financially. Hence, the Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch became a reality. Today 50 acres are devoted to ranunculus.
Visiting the Super Bloom of The Flower Fields At Carlsbad
I recommend starting with a tracker ride around the fields. From there, you can stop at various points and take some pictures. On my visit, the Sunflowers were beginning to bloom in the back fields.
Besides the ranunculus, your super bloom visit includes the American Flag flower display of red, white, and blue petunias. There are various gardens, bird aviaries, and the Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse to view.
A favorite is the historic display of Poinsettias. One must remember that the Flower Fields were originally a Poinsettia Farm. The Eckes made their name to fame with the Poinsettia. They propagated different varieties and made the flower famous as the Christmas flower.
The Poinsettia originated in Mexico and Central America. Named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United State Ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the Poinsettia to the United States. The Aztecs used Poinsettias for medical purposes.
In 1910 Albert Ecke set up flower stands in Hollywood, selling the plants he grew in his fields. He saw the commercial potential of the flower, as did his son Paul Ecke Sr. By the 1920s, Ecke needed more land to expand his business and moved to Encinitas, California, where the Poinsettias grew in the field. In the 1960s, Paul Ecke Jr. took over the company, and the operation moved into greenhouses. Today although the business sold in 2012, Ecke’s Poinsettia legacy lives on.
Look to your garden for your personal super bloom. This year my roses seem larger and lusher than usual. My yard is filled with the fresh fragrance from my flowering plants and trees. Even our oranges trees have a long-lasting super bloom. I am sure when the jasmine blooms, it too will be glorious. This display of florals, especially on the trees, expands to a super bloom of fruits on our trees.
It is a year to enjoy nature at its best with exploding colors and fragrances that delight our senses. If you are traveling to California in the spring, make sure you arrange to spend a day enjoying the florals that abound.