The owners of Tulip Top Gardens had been preparing to brighten things up for the community in spring, expecting a scaled down event would still allow hundreds of punters at once.
Instead, the 10-acre gardens in Bywong was told by NSW Health last month it can only welcome 20 visitors at a time to abide by coronavirus restrictions.
The family business is a local favourite for its colourful flowerbeds which typically open to the public for a month in September.
Administration and marketing manager Molly Rhodin spent the past few months preparing COVID safety plans ahead of a much-anticipated opening.
"We ticked all of our boxes and we were ready to scale it down thinking potentially we would be able to have 500 in the gardens at any one time," Ms Rhodin said.
However, that hope was dashed last month when it was determined the garden's month-long opening was classed as an event by NSW Health and required to abide by the 20 person cap on outdoor public gatherings.
An exemption can be applied for with the NSW government to request a larger gathering. The NSW Health website states these are considered under "exceptional circumstances" and the organisers must demonstrate physical distancing and the four-square metre per-person rule could be followed.
NSW Health has been contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.
Ms Rhodin said the capacity limit was a "slap across the face" and financially unsustainable due to daily running costs.
"The expenditure to open for 20 or 200 or 500 is the same," she said.
However, the family business hasn't been deterred by the ruling, and planned to follow countless businesses to a digital-friendly model.
Ms Rhodin said it was an "opportunity not a deficit", for people stuck interstate, or trapped in isolation to enjoy the hard work of her parents Pat and Bill Rhodin who had been preparing the gardens for months.
She started looking into creating weekly videos of the gardens which would be available online for season pass holders, charged at half the usual cost.
"We're looking at some different creative techniques like time lapse photography, drone footage and 360 cameras."
A separate video will also be available to purchase online for people who are not subscribed.
After a bleak year stripped of so many of Canberra's colourful events including Floriade, Ms Rhodin wanted the tulips to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
She said the community had rushed to support the business when it made the announcement on social media, in a post shared hundreds of times.
She was confident the new business model would be financially viable.
"With the comments we've had from people, the amount of emails and messages I have to respond to, I'm doing the figures in my head and I think we'll be okay," she said.
For the first time, Ms Rhodin said her family would work within normal business hours and hoped her parents could enjoy a bit of a sleep-in.