The annual tip-toe through Tulip Tops, a family-run garden north of Canberra, will become a virtual experience after it was decided it was not viable to open the garden to the public this year.
Tulip Top Gardens was scheduled to open on 12 September and run until 11 October, and usually welcomes thousands of visitors for the month-long season, but the owners of the small family-run garden on the Federal Highway received confirmation last week that their gardens could only open to 20 people at a time.
After receiving what the Rhodin family describe as a “fairly dry letter” from the NSW Department of Health, the family had all but given up hope of satisfying the large numbers of people who would usually come to enjoy the annual spring display on the four-hectare property.
“My parents were both shattered not to be able to open up the gardens, but I said to them the best thing you can do right now is ask the people what they want,” daughter Molly told Region Media.
So Molly hit social media, where she found that demand for the unique spectacle was strong, but if visitors couldn’t come to the gardens, the gardens would go to them – virtually.
The solution is for Tulip Tops to produce a video tour of the gardens and will work with Canberra-based company Sanguineti Media to produce a month’s worth of footage that will be available via a subscription or by DVD.
“Many people come to the gardens, not just because it’s a great day out. It might be the family that has come out each year for the last decade just so their mother can see her favourite-coloured tulip. Or it’s where someone got engaged.
“There’s just so many great stories, so the objective of this virtual tour is for us to tell our story in a really unique way that people don’t often see,” Molly said.
“For us, it’s about the connections. Everything in the garden connects so this is our way of also connecting the community with us even though they can’t be with us in person this year.”
For Molly, her father Bill, mother Pat and uncle Dallas, the gardens have been a labour of love since the Rhodin family first opened their garden to the public more than 20 years ago.
“Our methods each year are laborious and old-fashioned,” says Molly. “The most sophisticated systems are the ones that dad has rigged up over the years such as his ‘dinosaur sprinkler’ (a contraption on legs that sits above each garden and allows it to be gently watered).
“There’s only the four of us and three gardeners and it’s a lot of hard work all-year-round. And then we’re looking at the weather hoping it’s not too windy, too wet or too sunny.
“But when it’s ready to go, there’s really that moment of realisation that we did this and we made it happen. Then you keep hearing these stories about people telling you why they’re out there, and you think, we’ve made that story happen.”
This year, the garden will bloom again and the team behind them will make sure the tulips have their time in the sun.
You can find more details of the virtual tour at the Tulip Top Gardens website.