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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Flower Fields


 Take yourself out of the ordinary and spend a few hours in one of nature's wonders - our Fields of Dreams, our Fields of Color. A place where kids can run and adults can linger - 50 acres of extraordinary color in bloom on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean

 • Carlsbad Mining Company - Our sluice mining activity. Find your polished gem stones using the miner’s old method of sifting sand in water!

• Sweet Pea Maze - Find the solution to this one of a kind living maze! Immerse yourself in this living maze of fragrant and colorful "old fashion" sweet pea blossoms.

• Historic Poinsettia Display - Stroll through memory lane, a 1,500 square foot greenhouse filled with the world famous Ecke poinsettias. Enjoy hundreds of exciting poinsettias in over twenty rare , and unusual varieties. Learn the history of the world's best selling potted plant - The Poinsettia.

• American Flag of Flowers - Our brilliantly-hued American flag waves in the wind. Red, white and blue anemone flowers strategically planted on a 300 by 170 foot hillside pay tribute to the United States.

• Santa's Playground - Children and adults will delight in the Santa's Playground, the new home to the whimsical play houses and gigantic mushrooms that were part of Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead years ago. Come see the 'Guard Shack', 'Doll House', 'Crooked Treehouse' and huge colorful mushrooms that so many of us remember from our very own childhood!

 The fields today are a direct result of over 85 years of floral cultivation that began when Luther Gage, an early settler and grower settled in the area in the early 1920’s. Mr. Gage brought Ranunculus seeds to the area and began growing them in his fields next to Frank Frazee’s small vegetable farm in South Oceanside. This started a business called “Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bulbs”. The name “Tecolote” came from the owls that nested on his property.

When fire destroyed the modest Frazee ranch on the inland shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the family was forced to move to Oceanside where Frank Frazee began growing freesia bulbs to make ends meet. At that time, freesias were in high demand, and Frank took advantage of cheap land leased by the city to expand his crop. In 1933, the elder Frazee added ranunculus to his crop and introduced son Edwin to the art of seeding, cultivating and irrigating the pretty but less popular flower. At the age of 16, Edwin Frazee quit high school to work full time on his father’s burgeoning flower operation

Over the next several years, Edwin Frazee settled into the farming life, and the family expanded its fields once again to the sprawling Santa Margarita Ranch, on what even eventually would become the Camp Pendleton Marine base. With his daily experience in the fields making up for a lack of formal schooling, Edwin became adept at continually improving his ranunculus crop.

Originally the flowers were single petal and ranged in shades of red and yellow. The beautiful colors and fullness of the flowers you see now are due to the careful selection done by Edwin Frazee over many years. If nature provided a full flower or an unusual color, Mr. Frazee would save the seed and plant them the next year. This resulted in full flowers in thirteen beautiful colors including picotee, (a mixture of variegated colors) that we have today.
By the 1950’s, his success at breeding a superior ranunculus bulb and a more colorful flower, with an unprecedented infusion of petals, known as a “double”, eluded his competitors and left him as the only commercial ranunculus grower in the United States. Frazee also became a leading grower of gladiolus, and the brightly colored fields at the Santa Margarita Ranch became an attraction to visitors passing by Oceanside on old Highway 101.
Concluding that ranunculus thrived best in a mild climate and sandy, well drained soil, Frazee expanded his ranunculus crop south to the Ponto region of Carlsbad overlooking the ocean and Highway 101, bringing the field of vibrant color even closer to the growing number of motorists traveling between Los Angeles and San Diego. Paired with equally stunning spears of brightly colored gladiolus, the site quickly grew as a popular, if unofficial, tourist attraction, even gaining the attention of photographers for National Geographic magazine. Frazee and his workers soon found much of their time taken up by politely, but firmly, rebuffing visitors who began helping themselves to free bouquets of gladiolus and ranunculus.

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