Newsletter Feb 2022

The first Succulents in colour-sand galss workshop

The Power of Flowers! by Dr. Bibiana Chan

Wishing you happiness and prosperity! 恭喜發財 (Gōng-xǐ-fā-cái  in Mandarin or Kung-hei-fat-choi in Cantonese). The first day of the Lunar New Year was 1st Feb 2022. I remember vividly my excitement, as a child, going to Lunar New Year Flower Market at the famous ‘ Victoria Park’ in Hong Kong (where many past pro-democracy demonstrations were held). I hope the Year of the Tiger will ‘inject’ new energy and strength into mankind to continue the defence against COVID-19. It landed in Australia on the first day of the Year of the Rat in 2020. Two years on, Australia reached a milestone of 2 million positive cases. I tried to think of some silver linings out of this pandemic. The debut issue of the CFS e-Newsletter was published in May 2020 during the first COVID-19 lockdown. Jasmine C, the first junior florist joined CFS in March 2021. when the economy picked up some momentum out of the 1st lockdown. However, the COVID-19 Delta variant almost wiped out all the effort in building the CFS brand. With few options available, CFS launched its first Virtual Succulent Terrarium Workshop in Sept 2021 during the 2nd lockdown in Greater Sydney. We bounced back with a ‘Petal-it-Forward Campaign’ (a free bouquet to our valued customer to petal-it-forward) and handed out 20 free bouquets at our Pop-up Stall’ in Dec 2021 after 6 months in hibernation. Our members who volunteered at the stall could absolutely feel the Power of Giving Flowers!

Photograph: Shutterstock

I happened to find a Study by Dr. Jeannette Haviland-Jones at Human Emotions Lab, Rutgers University which explored how the gifts we choose reveal our personality and how we are perceived by the recipients. The research finds that both males and female floral givers were perceived as· 

  • happy, achieving, strong, capable and courageous people; and
  • emotionally intelligent – express feelings effectively and willing to find time to understand the feelings of others;

Female floral givers, in particular, were viewed as more appreciative of beauty and nature.

Dr Haviland-Jones concluded that, ‘A successful person is not necessarily someone with a lot of money and material goods, but rather someone who is in tune with people and knows how to touch their hearts, I can think of no other item besides flowers that evokes such positive feelings and perceptions for both the giver and the recipient.’

You may like to order a bouquet online or consider subscribing to regular flower deliveries to support our ‘Help Me Grow’ Traineeship Program. This will sure be a Win-Win-Win scenario to everyone involved – the Giver, the Recipient and the CFS trainee florist!   Here are some Rose Bouquets delivered to our valued customers.

If you would like a specific reason to give flowers, you are more than welcome to drop by the CFS pop-up stall (outside Little Giant Roaster Café, 525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby) on the following dates:

Valentine’s Day Weekend Sat 12/2

Harmony Week Sat 13/3

Autistic Awareness Month 9/4

Eve of Mother’s Day Sat 7/5  

PTSD Awareness Month 11/6

There are many ways to support CFS: become a member or contribute to the columns here. I’m always looking for a great recipe passed down from generation to generation. If you have a story to share, either write a short piece around 250 words or shoot us some photos. If there is a book or a movie you want to write a review, the CFS e-Newsletter will be happy to share with our e-Newsletter subscribers.  Contact Bibi on

Here are some flower arrangements to celebrate the Year of the Tiger! Check out the CFS new objectives in ‘From the Desk of Bibi’. Hear some feedback from our Newsletter subscriber about the column ‘Flower of the Month’.

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

Here is a new ‘Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass’ DIY Kit. Available soon.


Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


The scientific name for Sunflower is Helianthus. It comes from the Greek words “helios”, meaning sun, and “anthus”, meaning flower.

Helianthus is a genus comprising about 70 species of annual and perennial flowering plants in the daisy family Asteraceae. Majority of the species are native to North America and Central America. The common names “sunflower” refer to the popular annual species Helianthus annuus, whose round flower heads (disc flowers) in combination with the ray flowers (ligules) look like the sun.

Here are some fun facts about Sunflowers: 1. Sunflowers are native to North America. Sunflowers were introduced to Europe in the 16th century. 2. Sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine in Eastern Europe. According to data from FAOSTAT*, in 2018, Ukraine produced over 15 million tons of sunflower seeds. 3. Sunflower oil is used as a cooking oil and in cosmetic products e.g. moisturizer. 5.    Sunflowers are a great first gardening project because they grow quickly.

Sunflowers have many meanings across the world, some common ones are: positivity, strength, admiration/adoration and loyalty. In Asian culture, Sunflowers are believed to bring good luck and lasting happiness. This is why they are often given at graduations and at the start of a new business. I think the shape and the colour of the Sunflower heads and their bright yellow/orange petals associate strongly with the sun. Thus, Sunflowers usually represent happiness, radiance and all things POSITIVE! It is perfect for HAPPY occasions.

Sunflowers have become the symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. On June 1, 1996, Ukraine transferred to Russia for dismantlement the last of the 1,900 nuclear warheads it had inherited from the former Soviet Union.  Ukraine thus achieved the status of a nuclear free state. Celebrating the occasion a few days later, the Defence Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States met at a former nuclear missile base in the Ukraine. They planted sunflowers and scattered sunflower seeds. I sincerely hope that while the world is watching the power disputes between Ukraine and Russia, we think about these sunflowers planted by the three Defence Ministers some 26 years ago.

Both Lilies and Sunflowers symbolise PEACE!

Sunflowers have also been planted across nuclear disaster sites such as Fukushima, Chernobyl and Hiroshima. The flowers have been shown to absorb harmful toxic elements and radiation from the soil and clean up the environment. Do you know why sunflowers symbolise worship and adoration?  Sunflower buds and leaves are phototropism (Heliotropism).  They ‘chase after’ the direction of the sun during the day. Watch this amazing plant in action:

Recently I visited a Sunflowers Field ‘Hunter Valley Sunflowers’ in Largs, approximately 170 km North of Sydney. It was my first ‘pick your own’ activity! I picked 3 gigantic Sunflowers. When I paid at the counter, the cashier smiled and said, ‘You’ve got the right footwear!’ l had my hiking boots on to walk through the muddy sunflower field after days of heavy downpour.

Once a young lady ordered a bouquet of Sunflowers for Valentine’s Day a month ahead of time! I was very curious about it so I did my research. I learnt that while RED Roses are the most popular flowers for Valentine’s Day, Sunflowers are the one to give to your Mr Right whom you adore. If you would like to order some sunflowers ($38 a bunch, delivery fees apply), drop me a line on  

Feb Creative Workshop by Young People for Young People

Make Your Own Succulent Terrarium Workshopby Bibi & young CFS members. Register today

McKayla co-facilitating Terrarium Workshop with Bibi

Date: Sat 26/2/22 Time: 1230 to 1430

Venue: Chatswood Youth Centre 64 Albert St, Chatswood

Terrariums made my past workshop participants

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

Vases with 12 Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
Giant sunflowers in an arrangement for Church

A small vase with Alstroemeria & Kangaroo paws
Yellow and Orange are good companion.
A very happy face!
Happy Plant improves air quality indoor

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Happy Plant

Common Name: Happy Plant, Corn Plant, Chinese Money Tree

With its broad strappy leaves and tall woody stems, the Happy Plant is a distinctive and easy to grow houseplant. The Happy Plant is one of the best indoor plants at improving indoor air quality. It is a great way to breathe life into your home or office!

Stunning green leaves of Happy Plant

How to care for a Happy Plant? Happy Plants need moderate to bright indirect light indoors. If you have an outdoor Happy Tree, make sure it is placed in a sheltered space with shade to semi-shade to prevent the leaves from burning.

Water your Happy Plant directly onto the soil and keep watering until the entire potting mix is drenched so the soil is evenly moist without becoming soggy. During colder months, the plant can be watered less frequently since the soil will retain more water.

Great indoor plant

Happy Plants prefer partial shade and out of direct heat of the sun and draughts. They like good drainage and allow it to dry out between watering. Wet feet will cause root rot. Keep leaves clean with a gentle wipe-over as this will also help to prevent Mealybug.

It is important to test the moisture level before each watering by dipping your finger into the soil to feel the level of moisture. If it feels soggy, wait for a few days and check again.

A bud is growing.

This plant flourishes in warm temperatures, ideally not below 10°C and not over 30°C. Like most indoor plants, Happy Plants prefer medium to high humidity. Low humidity may cause brown patches on its leaves, in which case you can increase humidity by misting the plant with water.

You can feed your plant with a balanced liquid fertiliser (e.g. seasoil) in spring and summer. Wipe leaves with a damp cloth. Remove any dead or yellowing leaves with a clean pair of scissors or secateurs.

 Mature Dracaenas will flower if they are kept tightly potted with their roots left undisturbed. There is nothing you can do to promote the flowers other than to keep the plant in the same location for many years. They do tend to flower in late autumn/early winter and then again in late spring/early summer, so it may be related to length of day. Check out this video clip on how to care for a happy plant.

Happy Plant leaves used in floral arrangement
Green leaves with yellow pattern are perfect to complement these beautiful flowers
A classic flower display.

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Recipe of the Month

The French Macarons by Gina Chen

Meringue Ingredients:

3 eggs;
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour
a few drops of gel food colouring

Take three eggs and separate the egg whites and egg yolks (we will only be needing egg whites). Beat the egg whites until white and fluffy. Then gradually add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and continue beating the eggs. Add food colouring of your choice (gel food colouring preferred. Optional: add a small amount of vanilla essence. To check if this is ready by lifting the mixture. If the mixture remains upwards then it is ready. This picture showed stiff peaks. If you flip the bowl upside down, the mixture should not fall down or move.

Sieve 1 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1 cup almond flour. Then add them into the mixture. Stir the ingredients without using the egg beater. Once you can make a figure 8 with the batter without it breaking, its ready.

Put the mixture into a piping bag and squeeze it out so that there are circles of the same size onto the baking paper. (Squeeze an even number of circles, otherwise there will be one without the other side). After you have squeezed all the meringue onto the baking paper, lift the tray around 4 cm high and drop it a few times. This step is important so that there are no air bubbles in the meringue. If you can still see some air bubbles, grab a toothpick or skewer and pop them carefully.  Let them sit for 30 – 60 minutes. You can brush your finger on top to see if it indent. Do not touch it with too much force, this step is there so that the macarons will rise properly. Then put it in the oven at about 150 °C and keep an eye on it. It should be ready in about 15-20 minutes but every macaron is different so you should watch it. Let the meringue cool down before putting the cream on otherwise it will melt.

Cream (filling)

1 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour

Then put the sifted ingredients into the bowl with softened butter. Use the egg beater to beat the ingredients. Beat it until it is smooth and like cream. After this, the cream and Macrons should be ready. Put the cream into a piping bag and squeeze it out and put it together.

You many enjoy watching this video if you want to make sure you are doing the right thing!

Book Review

by Kim Wilkins


Lee Child has written a series of thriller novels, with the help of his younger brother Andrew Child, all starring an ex American soldier named Jack Reacher.  Lee Child is the author’s pen name. He is a British writer named James Grant. The novel is 339 pages long and was published in 2021.

The books are, for some reason, enormously popular, so I thought I should read one.  I was very disappointed.  In “Better Off Dead” our hero outwits and defeats an arch criminal named Dendocker by maiming and/ or killing a large number of villains.

 Most of the novel involves Reacher inflicting, in considerable  detail, various injuries upon the bad guys – breaking ribs, poking out their eyes, breaking bones and often just killing them.  The story is told through Reacher’s eyes.  He often tells you what he could do to them.  To say it has excessive violence is an understatement. This leaves less time for character development and makes the silly and predictable plot less of a problem.

Reacher is a caricature of an ex American soldier/ hero.  The title “Better Off Dead” does not quite describe my feelings while reading this, but in my view there are numerous better practitioners of this genre.


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From the Desk of Bibi

New Year, New Hope & New Objecties!

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).

In 2020 (shortly after the first COVID lockdown was lifted), I applied to put an advertisement on the TAFE website for a florist intern/floristry student seeking work experience. I was advised that TAFE would not allow advertisement from a for-profit organisation. To resolve this, either CFS made it a paid internship or waited till CFS became a member of the Australian Charity and Not-for-Profit Council (ACNC). I ‘argued’ to this TAFE administrative staff that CFS was not-for-profit – both Willoughby City Council and City of Sydney Council accepted our not-for-profit status while CFS was waiting for the outcomes of a lengthy ACNC assessment process. ‘NO!’ was the blunt answer! I think I have a motto of ‘Not taking a “NO” as an answer!’. This disappointing email exchange just made me more determined to complete the ACNC membership application.     

In Sept 2020, I attended a webinar about ‘DFR (Deductible Gift Recipient)’ status offered by Justice Connect. CFS slowly evolved into 2 arms –

a. providing floristry services through our monthly pop-up stalls and online orders;

b. supporting young members as facilitators in our monthly creative workshops for young people.

In August 2021, I engaged with a consultant from ‘Social Ventures Australia’ for some feedback for the 6th version of the CFS Business Plan. I subsequently amended the business Plan to a 7th version. I attended another webinar by Justice Connect – Financial Reporting for Not-for-profit Organisations in Oct 2021 to learn about all the new changes to this. Having done all my ‘homework’, I finalised the online ‘draft application’ on ACNC website and hit the ‘submit’ button. By the end of Nov, I received an email from ACNC informing me that an assessor had been assigned to CFS’ membership application. A week later Ruby, the assessor, contacted me for additional information. She gave me 2 weeks to answer all her questions. As a researcher, I was efficient in ‘dig’ out relevant documents and photos (a picture speaks a thousand words). With the support from the CFS Committee and especially our legal consultant Kim, a formal response was submitted to ACNC shortly after the 2nd AGM. After several more email rounds with Ruby, the next step is to call a Special General Meeting for our members to accept a resolution to adopt these new objectives (presented at the end of this article) to the CFS Constitution. All members will soon receive an invitation to attend a hybrid Special General Meeting in person or via Zoom.

The moral of my story is ‘Set your goals’ (short term and long term)! Break down into Specific ‘Measurable’ steps with an Achievable Reasonable Time frame! Sounds familiar? Sounds SMART

Community Flower Studio Inc is a charitable not-for-profit social enterprise whose primary goal is to promote mental wellbeing and empower young people living with mental ill health. Through its activities, the Community Flower Studio:

  • Provides a safe and inclusive space for young people to meet and interact in a supportive environment, led by a team of positive role models, many of whom are professionals who have lived experience of mental ill health

  • Hosts regular creative workshops that are co-designed and co-facilitated by young people, for young people. It also provides an opportunity to talk about mental health and wellbeing in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Utilises a not-for-profit social enterprise platform to provide traineeship mentoring pathways for young people facing mental health challenges and capacities to prepare for further study or employment.  Examples of current opportunities include workshop facilitation, floristry skills development, face-to-face and online sales and marketing, retail customer services, stock monitoring and maintenance.
  • Arranges opportunities for young people with mental health challenges or lived experience of mental illness to interact with the general public and people from diverse cultural and linguistic background in the community who do not have a clinical mental illness diagnosis or disability.

Enjoy whatever you are doing wherever you are! 


Chrysanthemums & Chinese painting

By Maria Chong

I truly love the content in your newsletter that you introduce a type of flower every time, it’s background, and what the meanings a flower convey, etc., like this time you said Dahlias convey the meaning of “finding inner strength”. Now I know chrysanthemum is under Dahlias.

Garden Dahlias

I love chrysanthemum as it always survives longer than other flowers. It carries on hope as they stay longer in the vase. It is also the type of flowers that I used to enjoy drawing in Chinese painting, but I do not recall why. I remember that when I was small, chrysanthemums and daisies were the most affordable flowers in a bouquet that we bought for visiting the cemetery. But at that time, I did not appreciate chrysanthemums and daisies as they looked so plain with no character. Other types of flowers looked so 姿態萬千 (Zītài wàn qiān thousands of gestures). Not until I started to learn Chinese paintings did I suddenly realise I love “drawing” chrysanthemums. I have forgotten why I love drawing it though as it was too long ago. But anyway, even in those days of buying bouquets for paying tribute to the ancestors, I always added one or two big chrysanthemums to the bouquet because its presence transformed the whole bouquet. It was needed to back up the whole bunch of flowers. And it looks peaceful and calm therein. I always chose the “white” and “big” ones.

Note: Dahlias and Chrysanthemums both are the family of Asteraceae

Green button Chrysanthemums
Graduation Bouquet for HannahChristmas
Christmas Terrariums
Rosie Posies at CFS pop-up stalls
Mental health Month Virtual Terrarium workshops
Glow-in-the-Dark terrariums

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

Like us on Facebook:Community Flower Studio Inc. Instagram: communityflowerstudio

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