On a visit this month to the Lompoc Valley, we were initially attracted to the vibrant colors of the flowers fields found in town.
When we stopped though, it was the wonderfully intoxicating scent of thousand of flowers in the fields that got us to stay even longer.
It was well worth it for the sensory–or ‘scent’-sory–pleasure.
We visited one of the larger flower fields on Floradale Avenue, a central location for commercial growers, who have been growing flowers there and throughout the valley since the early 1900s.
We found out June was a great time to be there, since the growing season typically lasts from April to September.
We saw stock flowers, with clusters of round, double flowers forming spikes at each stem, each with a clove-like scent. Red, white, pink, and purple sweet peas smell had an enchanting, summery scent.
Author Steffen Arctander perfectly wrote that the smell of sweet peas “recall that of freesia, certain roses, with a very delicate touch of orange blossom or hyacinth.”
The flower fields are also filled with delphiniums, bells of Ireland, Queen Anne’s Lace, alyssum, marigolds, and so many other flowers.
While fewer flower fields exist today, the seeds are still sold throughout the world, and the cut flowers are used by florists in the western United States. In fact, approximately 80 percent of U.S. cut flower production comes from California, and over half of that comes from Santa Barbara County, according to the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.
Lompoc Valley still celebrates its floral heritage and “valley of flowers” with an annual flower festival held every year in June since 1952.
The 2018 festival, presented by the Lompoc Valley Festival Association, will be held this year from June 20 through June 24 at Ryon Park, and will feature a carnival, parade, arts and crafts and commercial vendors, as well as a flower show. More info: www.lompocvalleyfestivals.com
*Make sure when you visit the flower fields, safely park on side of road away from traffic. And, remember the fields are privately owned. Get permission to walk out into the fields. Don’t walk on top flowers and stay on designated paths.