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Behind-the-scenes tours of Carpinteria flower farms

April 11, 2012 |  8:40 am

Carpinteria-flower-farm-2The Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tours are Saturday, a chance for gardeners and flower fans to get an insider's view into the world of cut flowers by taking a greenhouse or field tour. Participants also can buy flowers directly from the growers.

The fourth annual self-guided tours are hosted by eight flower farms and the Santa Barbara County Flower & Nursery Growers' Assn. The Carpinteria valley is one of the most prolific cut flower-growing regions in the state, and on the drive north from Los Angeles toward Santa Barbara, it's impossible to ignore what seem like acres of greenhouses lining U.S. 101 -- polychromatic explosions of blooms destined for florists, supermarkets and farmers markets.

Erik Van Wingerden of Myriad Flowers said visitors to his family's farm will see one of California's last major rose-growing operations, where more than 10 million rose stems are produced annually.

"Seventy-five percent of what we grow are roses," he said. "We have hybrid teas, sweetheart roses and spray roses. As for the rest, we grow pompom chrysanthemums, dahlias, ranunculus, solidago, sunflowers, gladiolas and irises."

Gerbera grower Winfred Van Wingerden, Erik's cousin and president of Maximum Nursery, said when visitors tour his greenhouses and see jelly-bean-colored blooms covering 4.5 acres, "there's a wow effect -- it's totally magical."

Carpinteria-flower-farm-3Inviting the public to see what's growing in their backyard is an important way to promote California-grown flowers, said Kasey Cronquist, chief executive of the California Cut Flower Commission, based in Santa Barbara.

"There's nothing more rewarding than to put a face to the flower," Cronquist said. "Our growers want to tell the story of the flower farmer so people know where their blooms come from."

The Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tours run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Some of the venues will have refreshments; all will have freshly picked flowers for sale. Pets are not allowed. Download the map.

On June 16, several Northern California flower growers will host a similar event: the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Annual Open House.


Spring garden tours

Cliff May ranch house show

Pool photography in Palm Springs

Frank Lloyd Wright's photographer in focus

-- Debra Prinzing

Photos: Gerberas at Mobi's Greenhouses, one of the stops on the Carpinteria tour. Photo credit: Debra Prinzing

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