Newsletter April 2022


Floral Arrangement Made Easy Workshop – continue our petal-it-forward campaign by Dr. Bibiana Chan

The FAME workshop on 26th March at chatswood youth centre
How to wrap up a small vase?

Too much sadness and despair are surrounding us these days: a new variant of Omicron (BA.2) hit the Land of Oz like a whirlpool! The unprecedented flooding hit a Northern NSW town, Lismore, twice in a month. There are now 4 millions of Ukrainian refugees who fled their homes for a safe roof above their heads.

At the recent FAME (Floral Arrangement Made Easy) Workshop, I shared some trade secrets of creating a ‘Rosie Posy’ and a ‘Presentation Bouquet’. Once again, the workshop was attended by the young and the young at heart (15 yr to 70+ yr ). You will read a story of ‘My Small Achievement’ in the Member’s Corner in this issue. If you are a parent, an auntie/uncle, read here about how to help your teen deal with the stress of a natural disaster.

Autism Awareness Month Pop-up Stall on 9th April

CFS will team up with Sydney Autism Community Lions Club (SACLC) to host a pop-up stall on Sat 9th April at our usual location (outside Little Giant Roaster Café at 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby). Listen to one of SACLC’s members Medha Gupta stories about her diagnosis, challenges and most importantly her advocacy. We will have some small bouquets to continue our Petal-it-Forward campaign.     

I am very pleased to announce the new objects of the Community Flower Studio (CFS) was unanimously passed at the Special General Meeting on 10th March. We are in the process of finalising the application for ACNC (Australia Charities and Not-for-Profits Council) membership. A big thank you to ALL CFS members, Committee and Consultants for achieving yet another milestone! CFS will continue to work towards our vision of Help Youth Learn Life Skills and Find Meaningful Employment! Please drop Bibi a line on if you have any questions about CFS for more details.  If you would like to find out more about the CFS Pre-Apprentice HELP ME GROW project, click here.

If you would like to purchase a DIY Succulent Terrarium Kit for a loved one or a friend as a present, order online here !

Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Tea Tree

Native to Eastern Australia, Australian Tea Tree plant (Leptospermum Laevigatum) is a medium-sized shrub to small tree with close bark. The younger stems are soft hairy and new growth often silvery. Foliage is oblong and narrow. Tea Tree can also grow into a low lying tree with twisted branches. Tea Tree produces small white flowers in Spring or early Summer that are scattered throughout the tree. It is valued for its ability to grow in difficult conditions. With its twists and curves, the Tea Tree offers a natural, sculptured appearance. It is also referred to as the Coastal Tea Tree. It thrives in either full or partial sunlight. Tea Tree adapts to most soil types, but it prefers fast-draining sandy and somewhat acidic soil. Smaller varieties, which work well for hedges, can be planted as close as 1 – 2 m; however, large varieties need 5 – 7 m of spreading-out space but respond well to trimming.

When planting a Tea Tree be sure to allow enough space for it to spread and its weeping branches to develop. Give newly planted specimens 25 mm of water weekly for the first summer. Then continue watering it during extended dry periods for the first year. Once established, it can withstand extended periods of drought. Potted specimens need to be watered all year due to their restricted root systems.

Fun facts about Tea Tree:

1. It is salt-resistant, very hardy and is commonly used in coastal plantings.

2. Tea Tree has been planted in Western Australia where it has become a weed. The seeds can be dispersed by wind and water.

3. This species has been planted along the Central Coast of California in the United States to stabilize sand. It is known there as the Australian Tea Tree.

4. Tea Tree to the Rescue Following numerous field tests, Earthoil Extracts Limited and the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) discovered that the drier areas of the Mt. Kenya region are well suited for the commercial production of Tea Tree. Watch here to find out this incredible story.

5. Tea Tree Oil can be extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia (a species of Tea Tree). This plant and is believed to contain compounds which have a range of beneficial properties including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial. Read this article in Clinical Microbiology Reviews to learn more.

Tiny white Tea Tree flowers and needle-like leaves
Tea Tree blooms featured in this grouping design

Mindfulness Origami Workshop by Young People for Young People

Fold a paper Crane or make a Lucky Star with Mindfulness as an alternative to Screen Time. – co-facilitated by Gina, Jacque & Bibi Register today!

Date: Sat 30/4

Time: 13:00 to 15:00

Venue: Chatswood Youth Centre

64 Albert Rd. (Crn of Albert and Victor Road)

Floral cookies
A starry night
Create your picture cookies

Partly funded by Willoughby City Council. Send Bibi an email if you have any questions.:

Tea Tree blooms
A small vase with roses, Tea Tree and carnation
Tea Tree blooms used as ‘filler flowers
Xanadu leaves featured in these Rosie Posies

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Philodendron ‘Xanadu’

  (Philodendron ‘Winterbourn’)

Don’t you just love these ‘feather-shaped’ leaves of Xanadu? In a recent floral arrangement workshop, I used Xanadu leaves to demonstrate adding irregular shapes to a bouquet.   

Xanadu, with the evergreen glossy foliage, acquires a compact growth habit in a fountain shape. The cut leaves can decorate a vase on its own. But it will be even better to grow a pot indoor to enjoy all year round.  Young leaves may be smooth-edged and will develop the distinctive wiggles as the plant matures.

In its natural habitat, Xanadu loves a full sun to partly shaded position. It is suited to warm climates and well-lit protected areas in cooler climates. If planting in a pot, use free draining soil rich in organic matter. Potting mix, rich with peat moss or humus is ideal. Mulch and water regularly during the first 12 weeks until the plant is established. Fertilise with a slow-release fertiliser yearly to ensure luscious growth. It can grow to 1.5m (height) x 1.5m (width) if planted outdoor or 75cm tall x 1m wide indoor. It will bring a tropical feel to the garden, balconies and courtyards.

Fun facts about Xanadu:

1. Xanadu is one of the most widely cultivated plants in Brisbane, used by councils, educational facilities, fast-food restaurants and the like as a reliable green space filler. It grows extremely well in South-East Queensland, surviving on natural rainfall alone if it must.

2. Xanadu can be grown as an indoor plant, where it should do well if not over-watered. However, the leaf shape will be more attractive and deeply lobed if grown outside in the sun.

3. Wipe leaves gently with a damp cloth if leaves are collecting dust, this will refresh the foliage to its usual glossy finish. 

Enjoy these 2 YouTube clips on propagating Xanadu:

How to Split a Philodendron

Zanadu used in floral arrangements
Zanadu leaves


Xanadu leaves outdoor

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Book Review

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Fierce Self-Compassion

How women Can harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim their Power and Thrive

by Dr Kirstin Neff

This is Dr Neff’s 2nd book on ‘Self-Compassion’. I read her first book (published in 2011) when I was in a serious relapse of clinical depression. The key take-home message then (2013) was the awakening of ‘treat myself as my best friend and be kind to SELF!’ In her 2nd book (published in 2021) after accumulating 30 years of research evidence, Neff called all women to practise ‘Fierce Self-Compassion’ to speak up and stand up for themselves. She used the metaphor of the Chinese concept of ‘Yin-Yang’ to describe the Tender (Yin) Self-Compassion – Kindness towards oneself (comforting), address one’s needs (Soothing) and respond to them (Validating) while Fierce (Yang) Self-compassion turns to ‘Protecting the little ones like Mama Bear’; Providing for a wider community and Motivating others to follow their passion!’

In most cultures (especially collective-orientated ones), the socialisation process ‘shapes’ young girls to conform to the social norms, be submissive to powerful figures and self-sacrifice for societal common good. You can find out more from the section ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get Angry’ in the chapter ‘Angry Women’.

Guided Self-Compassion Exercises

Dr Kristin Neff has not only explained her research findings in her book, she also provides practical exercises to help readers cope with challenges in life and the negative emotions arising from these challenges.  I found the link to the audio version of a guided ‘Tender Self-Compassion Break’ very helpful. Try it yourself this weekend!

It really amazed me that Dr Kirstin Neff is so widely read that she understands the Chinese word for anger 生氣 ‘Sheng-Qi’ literally translated to ‘To generate Qi – energy‘. She ‘labelled’ this ANGER as ‘a Yang form of Qi! She then talked about when yin and yang aspects of ‘Qi’ are in harmony, there’s health well-being and contentment! This is something I learnt as a little kid! I never connect ANGER with ‘Yang form of Qi’! From now on, when I am angry, I will try to find the matching ‘Yin energy’ to harmonize the ‘Yang energy’ (i.e. anger) to make it CONSTRUCTIVE (as compared to being DESTRUCTIVE OR AGGRESSIVE)!

Another insight Dr Neff shared with her readers after taking on research into Self-Compassion is ‘The suppression of women’s anger helps maintain unequal power relationship!”

This resonates with my conclusion of why more females are diagnosed with clinical depression than males – suppressed negative emotions and a socially well-maintained power differential between males and females. Up to these days, we are still talking about a glass ceiling which prevents women from climbing to the top of the corporate ladder!

Caring for Others Without Losing Ourselves

In the final chapter Caring for Others Without Losing Ourselves is another important lesson for me to learn. As a daughter, a wife or a mother, I was taught to believe I should give priorities to the others’ needs above my own.  I only discovered the importance of ‘self-care and ‘love for self’ after my first relapse. Saying ‘NO’ is never easy for me. One strategy I learnt now is NOT to say ‘yes or no’ too soon but ‘buy time’ to check my diary first!

For your Tool Box

Dr. Neff is very generous in sharing her own journey of practising self-compassion while taking care of her autistic son; the passion in pursuing her research, her lived-experience of struggles and challenges with her romantic relationships. This book is a must have in every woman’s tool box (just imagine carrying a tool box like the tradies)!     

Recipe of the Month

“Pes ‘d coj” (Kale rolls stuffed with meat)

by A. Carrera

Pes ‘d coj” is a typical Piemonte (in Northern Italy) which is translated as ‘cabbage rolls stuffed with meat‘.

My friend is a local resident of Piemonte. She shared this recipe on Facebook. I asked her to let me share here.

Stuffing is made with cooked and minced meat added to vegetables like spinach, eggs, parmesan, a minced garlic clove and parsley. You can also add leftover rice or pasta. There is no specific recipe for filling, just add a bit of everything is fine. Then loosen the kale leaves and add the stuffing to the centre of a piece of Kale/Cabbage leaf. Then make a roll. Line the rolls in a baking dish. Bake in the oven with butter and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese until golden.

Ingredients :
  • Cabbage/Kale leaves to taste
  • 400 g of finely ground beef (or boiled leftovers)
  • 100 g of sausage
  • 1 bunch of chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 40 g of stale bread
  • 50 ml of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g of Parmesan cheese
  • a little bit breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chili pepper (optional)
  • nutmeg


Here is a link to a similar recipe found in the cyberspace. If you would like more details for the method, this one is for you.

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A photo of a Terrarium supplied by a workshop participant.

The! first Harmony Day was launched in 1999 by the then NSW MP Dr. Peter Wong. This was an initiative in respond to Pauline Hanson’s 1996 maiden speech at Parliament describing how Australia being ‘swamped’ by Asians.  According to the 2016 Census, nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was. Mandarin came first as the most spoken language other than English.  Eighty-five per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia (check out the Australian Bureau of Statistics website for more details).

From the Desk of Bibi

A New Workshop Was Born!

The Community Flower Studio (CFS) is proud to commit to a model of ‘Co-design and Co-produce’ in ALL CFS Creative Workshops. ‘Co-design’ is not just a trendy word to put in our promotional flyer. It is the ‘key’ to success in running ‘youth-focus’ services.  After hosting 20 ‘Succulent Terrarium’ Workshops, I was looking at offering a variation to this most popular CFS workshop. I consulted the 15-year-old BB (my nickname then) who would love to play or decorate with coloured sand. I was given some Mason glasses (jars with handles). I experimented with an inner tube to put in the centre of the glass. I bought some coloured sand from a Dollar Shop. I also found a collapsible ‘soft’ funnel made of Silicone which I could connect a tube to its ‘neck’. This was my special ‘paint brush’ . I was ready to create some ‘Succulents in Coloured Sand Glasses’!

A Pilot Online Workshop

After experimenting with different colour themes and inserting figurines next to the succulents, I felt ready to host a pilot workshop. With a new wave of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant, I decided to host an online workshop. I invited some CFS members to be my ‘guinea pigs’. We followed our usual protocol –

1.       An Icebreaker Activity (facilitated by a young member McKayla);

2.       A brief introduction of the Colour Theory (by the CFS Junior Florist Jasmine)

3.       Creation of ‘succulents in coloured sand glass’ – the core activity (presented by Bibi);

4.       Sharing of your experience (co-facilitated by Bibi & McKayla) – McKayla presented some infographics on ‘Dealing with Disappointment’ (when things don’t work out as planned).  

5.       Filling out an online evaluation form

I then ‘studied’ the feedback from the evaluation forms.  I invited two of the young members who attended the pilot workshop to help me with creating more succulents in coloured sand glasses for the Valentine’s Day Theme Pop-up Stall. I listened to their suggestions including providing a small glass for participants to ‘practise’ before they created the ‘real’ thing. This worked out to be the best idea ever!

Back to Chatswood Youth Centre for a in-person workshop

As Omicron was under control and young people in NSW started to get their 2nd jab (COVID-19 vaccines), CFS returned to Chatswood Youth Centre for an in person workshop in February. Once again, I invited a young member to host the icebreaker activity. I offered Anthony some ideas. However, I told him it was up to him how he wanted to ‘run his show’. He shared with me some of his preliminary ideas. On that day, he did a great job! I was so proud of him.

The ’Colour Theory’ part also showed a great improvement. Instead of just ‘talking’ about the theory on a screen (at the online workshop), I prepared samples of pebbles and sand in a monochromatic scale of various colours. Participants could see and ‘touch’ the colours and put the samples side by side to ‘feel’ the effects (monochromatic tones of ‘harmony’, complimentary colours of ‘contrast’, the ‘white balance’). The different textures provided by the sand and the pebbles were ‘sensational’!

I also sent out DIY kits to a couple of super crafters (including the Co-Chair of the CFS Youth Subcommittee Jacque) to test out the DIY instructions.  I adopted their feedback.

A new ‘Co-design & Co-produce’ workshop was born!

Testimonies from our young participants

             I liked all of it, it was pretty calm and relaxing and the end product looks really good. It is really relaxing and fun!

When we put the sand and the pebbles inside as well as the practise (on a small bottle) was easy and fun.

It’s really fun, you should try that.


My small achievement

By Janet Lau

I would like to share with you my small achievement, thanks to the CFS Floral  Arrangements Made Easy (FAME) Workshop. My workshop date coincided with the graduation day of my son’s girlfriend. She achieved her goal after years of hard work! My bouquet was a unique and timely present to celebrate her achievement. She loved it and even thought that I bought it from a florist! Before the workshop, I was clueless about floral arrangements and often delegated such intricate tasks to my daughters who seem to have more natural floral arranging abilities than me. At the workshop, I learnt principles of floral arrangements, as well as florist “trade secrets.” Now I have ambitious plans to arrange unique and creative bouquets for upcoming birthdays and anniversaries!

Creating community art in lockdown by Barbara Gruber

A new photo book showcases the artworks of hundreds of Paddington residents that transformed local shop windows into a community art exhibition during Sydney’s second lockdown.

The long weeks of lockdown in 2021 will be remembered in Paddington for the community art initiative #paddolockdownart that offered the opportunity for anyone to share and exhibit their art created during lockdown.

More than 400 Paddington residents — school children, art teachers and local artists — created 590 artworks which were exhibited in the windows of more than 30 businesses including shops, pubs, cafes, galleries, law firms, creative agencies, and vacant retail properties. 

The new book — creating community art in lockdown was launched as part of a pop-up exhibition at Saint Cloche Art Gallery in Paddington that featured many of the artworks and also brought participating artists together for the first time.

#paddolockdownart initiator Barbara Gruber says the book documents how the streetscape of Paddington’s Five Ways was transformed into an open-air art gallery, and for many children in particular, the experience of going to the shops also meant seeing their own art on display in public for the first time. 

The photo book was designed by Sylvia Weimer from the creative agency Spacelab and was made possible thanks to the support of a community revitalisation grant of Woollahra Council.

The book is a mix of photographs of the shop windows that exhibited the artworks as well as a selection of featured artworks. You can read the photo book here or flip through the pages here. You can purchase a digital copy with all proceeds go towards funding future community art initiatives. Please send email to:

Photo Credits: Claudia Lowe

Community Flower Studio Logo Explained

Community: CFS is a community to support young people facing mental health challenges.

Creative: CFS hosts events to unleash young people s creative talents.

Resource: CFS provides members with resources to enhance their wellbeing.  

Support: CFS  offers support to members to develop their potential.

Growth: CFS fosters a growth mindset which is helpful in dealing with challenges.

Recovery: CFS sees recovery as achievable and a journey to cherish.



Website: Mobile: 0412 613 073

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Address: 10-12 Clanwilliam St., Willoughby, 2068, NSW, Australia.