‘Gut-wrenching’ news keeps tulip display from opening

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“It’s not financially sustainable and we also don’t want to risk spreading the virus,” says Molly. Clockwise from top, Bill, Dallas, Molly and Pat Rhodin.

TAKING its tulips virtual is in the works for Tulip Top Gardens, whose owners have said it’s not viable for them to open this spring in the face of tighter COVID-19 restrictions in NSW. 

It was “gut-wrenching and disappointing” to learn last week that they would only be allowed to welcome 20 people at any one time, says marketing and administration manager Molly Rhodin. 

“It’s not financially sustainable and we also don’t want to risk spreading the virus, particularly as we often have a lot of older people visiting,” she says.

With Floriade cancelled well ahead of time, Molly and her parents Pat and Bill, and brother Dallas, had still hoped to open for the gardens’ 23rd spring season from September 12 until October 11.

But, with a videographer planned to record daily footage of the four-hectare gardens, just off the Federal Highway near Sutton, Molly says she’s glad to be able to share the flowers in any way they can. 

“We’re optimistic about the virtual footage being accessible to people all over Australia, and internationally, as restrictions on international travel won’t be lifting any time soon,” she says.

“We’d love to showcase far and wide what a small group of people have achieved, celebrate who we are and the work we’ve done.

“The planting is systematic and done by rote for Mum and Dad after so many years, so all the hard work is done and we wanted to find a way to showcase that.”

Molly posted on the gardens’ Facebook page to gauge interest in the plan and said she’d received an overwhelmingly positive response.

“That one post alone has thus far, without a boost or cross marketing, reached almost 66,000 people, had more than 10,000 engagements, 900 plus comments and more than 400 shares,” she says.

Molly says there might be an upside to this year’s disappointment, though. During the month-long season that the gardens are usually open, the family get straight into mowing, whipper-snipping, hand watering, setting off the sprinklers and weeding once the last visitors have left for the day, every evening and often into the early hours.

“I said to Dad, could you imagine, after a couple of hours of filming per day, at different times, we’d have so much more time for all the work we do after closing,” she says. 

A season pass is usually $40, and the digital subscription will cost $20 for the month, though Molly says they’re still working out the details, while cancelling everything that had been booked in.

“Hopefully people will find pleasure from seeing beautiful drone footage, dew on the grass at sunrise and the sun setting over the flowers at the end of the day,” she says. 

“It will be something different to look forward to. 

“It’s so special here, from the moment you pull into the car park and hear the kookaburras. Hopefully we’ll capture that and it will become a really wonderful, positive offering to our community.”

More information via tuliptopgardens.com.au

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.


  1. I find it weird that there can be crowds of people at shopping centres, but they aren’t allowed to have more than 20 people in an open space…

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