Mother Nature offers Bill and Pat Rhodin a very narrow window of opportunity and for three long years that window has been all but closed.
However, out at their home at Tulip Top, just off the Federal Highway north of Canberra and one of the most low-key but spectacular tourist attractions in our region, there's optimism in the air that this spring will be one of the best ever.
Tens of thousands of plumb little tulip bulbs are being bedded down now and floated with loam for their winter quasi-slumber, ready for their weeks of visual glory in September-October and with it, the arrival of thousands of visitors to witness an all-too-brief brief, but stunning spring showcase. Hope springs eternal for the former dairy farmers and award-winning gardeners who this year will mark their 25th year on the Sutton property.
And after all the autumn rain creating optimum moist growing conditions, it promises to be the best show of tulips in a decade, with the family's fingers all firmly crossed.
"Nothing is ever certain because it's nature and the weather that make the decisions about everything; we're just the custodians," Bill Rhodin said.
"And of course, you can pour all your effort into it and then something like a pandemic comes along."
Sorely tested financially but undeterred by the past years of toil unrewarded as a result of COVID closure, the couple have invested in the future with a revamped reception area, the concrete floor freshly polished and a bar installed.
"We're still working on the reception area because obviously we haven't had the spring income to finish it off but by December we should have the commercial kitchen in," Mr Rhodin said.
"If there's one thing that COVID made pretty obvious, we had to do something which grows the business, and not just the plants and bulbs."
There's an enormous amount of back-breaking labour involved in creating a privately-run flower display which, while smaller in scale than Canberra's government-backed spring festival Floriade, to many visitors, is just as captivating.
After years of 4am starts and long days in the dairy business, the Rhodins are no strangers to hard work.
The couple also have a knack for creating gardens of spectacular success, starting with winning Canberra's 1978 garden of the year at their former home in Kambah - from which first prize netted a visit to the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show - then moving to the rocky soils of Fadden and repeating the success 10 years later, winning the national, bicentennial garden competition.
From a modest start with plantings around the Sutton family home, Tulip Top now spans four hectares with more than 1000 blossom trees - crabapples, peaches, plums and cherries - and with pansies and violas to border the 80-odd tulip varieties.
The business is a family affair with Bill's wife Pat involved, daughter Molly running the social media and son Dallas also digging in when needed.
But it begs the obvious question: why the family focus on tulips as showpieces, and not another flower?
"There is something about the tulip which appeals to almost everyone," he said.
"I think it's the large variety of very striking colours, the shape of the flower and the height. They seem to mesmerise people."
The Tulip Top display will be open for five weeks - September 10 to October 16 - instead of the customary four. They get a one-week jump on Floriade in the hope that visitors who love their spring flower displays will, after years of missing out, be eager to return.