The fields today are a direct result of nearly 100 years of floral cultivation that began with Luther Gage, an early settler and horticulturist that 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. In 1933 Frank Frazee also started growing ranunculus and introduced his son Edwin to the art of seeding, cultivating and irrigating the pretty but not yet popular flower. At the age of 16, Edwin Frazee quit high school to work full time on his father’s burgeoning flower operation.
The ranunculus is native to Asia Minor and a member of the buttercup family. 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.
Edwin Frazee made several moves over the years but in 1965 he moved his ranunculus along with gladiolus growing operation to the current site, land owned by the Ecke Family of Encinitas. They had previously used the land to grow their poinsettias but in the 60’s they moved all propagation into greenhouses. Paul Ecke Jr. and Edwin were both flower farmers which helped form a strong bond between the two men. When Edwin decided to retire in 1993 Paul convinced him to stay on as a consultant to a new grower to carry on his work. Paul brought in Mellano and Company another long time flower growing family to take over the growing of the beautiful ranunculus. Paul Jr. also looked at tourism as an important way to keep the fields financially viable as field grown agriculture had become increasingly more difficult over the years. The stage was set for the enduring preservation and promotion of this enchanting cultural emblem of Carlsbad. Hence, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch was born!
In 2002 Paul Ecke Jr. died, two years later Edwin Frazee passed away. Paul’s goal to bring people closer to agriculture and Edwin’s wish to have ranunculus live on beyond his death were achieved. Their presence is felt each spring when the ranunculus bloom into blazing fields of color.
From its humble beginnings in Luther Gage’s flower beds to one of San Diego County’s most enduring and recognizable landmarks, The Flower Fields continue to showcase nature’s artistry and to symbolize the diligence of a couple of the region’s most important and colorful pioneers.
In 1999, The Flower Fields entered into a retail agreement with Armstrong Garden Centers to manage the retail store. This agreement allows The Flower Fields personnel to concentrate on what they do best – growing beautiful flowers for the world to enjoy. For those not fortunate enough to be able to visit The Flower Fields, bulbs from this amazing horticultural site can be found at EasytoGrowBulbs.com.
Today, The Flower Fields represents the perfect synthesis of a robust working ranch and regional tourist attraction. Ample parking, an Armstrong Garden Center, special event opportunities, historical information, and floral products are provided to thousands of visitors each year. Additionally, our Paul Ecke Jr. Barn can accommodate up to 200 guests for events, galas and weddings.
Due to the continued benevolence and foresight of the Ecke family, the Flower Fields will continue to be a national jewel, an attraction enjoyed for future generations.