Newsletter May 2022

In this 2nd anniversary e-Newsletter, CFS celebrates reaching the milestone of a registered charity with ACNC.
Succulents in Coloured Sand Glass Workshop (13 April 2022)
Mindfulness Origami Workshop (30 April 2022)

The Community Flower Studio is a registered Charity! Dr. Bibiana Chan

After four years of hard work (including the brainstorming sessions with the Think Tank), finally I received an email from the Australia Charities and Not-for-Profit Council Commissioner informing me that the Community Flower Studio (CFS) is now a registered charity! This coincided with the 2nd anniversary of the publication of the CFS monthly e-Newsletter. In this issue, you will hear Carol sharing her involvement from the very beginning –From Small Things, Big Things Grow! at the ‘Member’s Corner’.

Last month, CFS hosted two creative workshops, both co-facilitated by our young members. They kept me on the toes and taught me ALL about what is trendy among their peers. When I saw them confidently sharing their skills and passion with workshop participants from the community, I thought, ‘Isn’t this what CFS set up to do?’ The CFS vision is to “Help Youth Learn Life Skills and Find Meaningful Employment!” They are future leaders of society. Leadership is highly sought these days! Watch the video clip of the first ‘Origami Jumping Frog Competition’ and share our joy!

The 1st CFS Origami Jumping Frog Competition . Video credits : Bibiana Cheung

Carnation is the Flower of the Month – you can pretty much find a carnation in every colours in the rainbow. There are two YouTube clips showing you how to propagate your own carnation cuttings from a bouquet you bought from the shop. The Plant of the Month is an indoor plant favourite: Syngonium or Arrowhead Plant. Nicely wrapped pots will be for sale at our Pop-up Stall on Sat 7 May outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby).

Sun 8 May is Mother’s Day, you may consider making the famous Italian dessert ‘Tiramisu’ (Recipe of the Month) to spoil your mum. I have had the privilege of tasting one made by my daughter-in-law who is an Italian. Check out the book review to see whether this could be a Mother’s (Parent’s) Day gift. If you are interested in community development, you may like to read my article “Empowerment is the key!” (scroll down to the column “From the Desk of Bibi”). I shared some of my own experience which may qualify for ‘textbook cases’.

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:

Eve of Mother’s Day Sat 7/5  

PTSD Awareness Month 18/6

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

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 here.


Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan



Dianthus caryophyllus is the scientific name of Carnation. It belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family, native to the Mediterranean area. It is cultivated for its fringe-petaled flowers and is used widely in the floral industry.  In 1907 Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia selected the pink carnation as the symbol for Mother’s Day.

In Greek, Dios means Zeus or God, and anthos means Flower. The term dianthus was coined by Greek botanist Theophrastus. “Dianthus Caryophyllus” for carnations translates to ‘Flower of Gods’. Many believe that the name “carnation” comes from “coronation” or “corone” which means flower garlands. Carnations are commonly used in Greek ceremonial crowns, hence the name Carnations.

Although their natural colours are pinkish-purple, the shades of white, yellow, orange, red, and green were created with the help of breeding. Carnations usually enjoy long vase life (remain fresh for 14 days).

Bogota Is the Capital of Carnations. It produces the most carnations in the world. Carnation is the national flower of a few countries: Monaco, Spain, and Slovenia.

Carnations symbolise fascination, distinction and love. Chabaud carnations are the large head standard that come in a variety of cultivars with including “Jeanne Dionis” (white), “Benigna” (white edged with magenta), “Aurora” (range of medium to dark pink), “Orange Sherbet” (warm, deep coral), and “La France” (classic pale pink).

You can grow Carnations in pots. Make sure the soil has excellent drainage and slightly alkaline by adding a little of lime. Place the pot with ample morning sun but avoid bright afternoon sun. Petals of brightly coloured carnations will fade with too much sunlight.

Carnations are a favourite choice for flower pressing. The layers of coloured petals translate beautifully when pressed. Whether you’ve got a special flower press or that you like to use, it’s really easy to make these pretty blooms last. When putting your carnation flower into the press or a pile of books, make sure it’s stem side down. You  can then smooth out the petals before placing a piece of paper over the top of the bloom. Leave your press in a cool, dry place for at least three weeks.

Carnations are super easy to propagate – here are 2 YouTube clips to show you how to propagate from cuttings taken from a bunch of Carnations you bought from a shop, I have tried it myself, it worked! .

Westridge Florist from Toowoomba.

This one shows different stages of growth.

Growing carnations from a bunch of flowers

Carnations require excellent drainage and an alkaline soil, also referred to as “sweet” soil. Alkaline soil tends to have slightly higher concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and sodium. If your soil tends to be acidic, adding a bit of lime when planting carnations will get them off to a good start. Carnations are relatively drought tolerant but regular water in spring will ensure flower buds are formed well. I found an old footage of a Carnation Farm in UK, I’m sure you would enjoy some British humour watching the ‘good old days’.  Carnation Farm (1966)

 Here are some final tips for caring for Carnations.

  • Carnations should have four to six hours of sunlight a day.
  • Water plants two to three times a week. If the petals or foliage begin to turn yellow, it’s a sign of overwatering.
  • To promote reblooming, remove any dying blooms or leaves.
  • Mulching is not advised because it prevents sufficient air circulation.
  • Carnations aren’t usually bothered by pests, so there is no need to apply pesticides.
  • Allow enough circulation between plants to prevent mold, fungus and mildew.
  • Tall varieties of carnations may need a support that holds up the stem as the plant grows.
  • If the soil needs more nutrients, you can use peat; it’s a common manure used for carnation growing

June Creative Workshop

Succulent Terrarium Workshopby Bibi & young CFS members. Register today

Date: Sat 26/3/22 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.:

McKayla co-facilitating Terrarium Workshop with Bibi
Yucca Filamentosa
Soft-tip Yucca Glorisa
Yucca Elata
Yucca Flaccida
Flowering Yucca Aloifolia
Syngonium Pink
Maria Allusion
Yellow Green
White Green

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


Syngonium podophyllum or Nephthytis. It is an elegant and versatile houseplant kept indoor or outdoor (in shade). It belongs to the family Araceae. It is native to the tropical rain forests in Central and South America.  Arrowhead Plant (nickname) is an easy first plant for beginners. White Butterfly is considered one of the most popular. It doesn’t attract pests and doesn’t mind an occasional dose of neglect.

White Butterfly

These days, there are different cultivars with surprisingly attractive colours – Pink Syngonium and Neon Robusta, both have light lime green leaves with a good dose of pink scattered throughout the leaves. Check out this video clip on the Top 42 Rare Syngonium varieties.

Syngonium can either be grown as a compact bushy looking plant by regular pruning and trimming the creeping tips. Alternatively, you can train its climbing branch up against a moss stick. Generally, it is low-maintenance except occasional pruning. It can sprawl and look messy.

Messy roots go wild!

Perhaps it is time to give your plant a hair-cut. However, it is best to wait till Spring and before hot summer arrives. Take a 4in stem tip cutting with only one or two leaves (remove others). If a tip has new growth use that – it will propagate easier. Put in a glass of water and watch the roots come out.

Syngonium enjoys high humidity. One common practice is to provide a pebble tray, i.e. to place the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase humidity. Syngonium can be easily grown in water. Just half-fill a vase with fresh water and it will keep thriving. Top up the water regularly.  The arrow-shaped green foliage and soft stems look gorgeous in decorative vases and transparent jars.

These plants do best in a position where they receive good light with no direct sunlight. In terms of watering, you should avoid the “little and often” approach, but instead water well and then wait. Syngonium grows surprisingly well in water. This photo showed the cutting I did on Boxing Day 2021.

Arrowhead cuttings in water

Learn more about Syngonium podophyllym care and propagation (with updates) from this video clip:

According to the Air Purifying Plant Research – Syngonium ranks 19 out of 50 top plants that clean the air in your home.

Just a word of caution – Syngonium is poisonous. Non-lethal sap causes skin irritation and burning of the mouth if ingested. Best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets.

Arrowhead plant is a great indoor plant.

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Recipe of the Month

Tiramisu provided by Laetitia Desmons

Tiramisu is a coffee-flavoured dessert comprised of ladyfinger cookies that have been dipped in coffee and layered with an egg and mascarpone cheese mixture. It’s then topped with cocoa powder and chilled for several hours.


  • 6 egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup Mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 x 7 oz packages Italian Lady Fingers (Savoiardi style)
  • 1 cup old expresso
  • ½ cup coffee flavored Liqueur (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa for dusting


  1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. This is your sabayon, remove from the heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon coloured.
  2. Add Mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks. Begin whipping the cream on low, increasing the speed over 10 minutes.
  4. Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon mixture and set aside.
  5. Mix the cold expresso with the coffee liquor and dip the lady fingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet, do not soak them!
  6. Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking dish (or container similar sized)
  7. Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the lady fingers.
  8. Repeat the process with another layer of lady fingers.
  9. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Dust with cocoa before serving.

Book Review

by Kim Wilkins

It is believed that the cover art can or could be obtained from NA., Fair use,

Out of the Ice by  Ann Turner

This is a mystery novel by Australian author Ann Turner, a former filmmaker. It is set in the Antarctic Peninsula with the main character and narrator, Laura, a scientist researching an excluded area, an abandoned whale station, for possible opening up to tourism. While reviewing the supposedly deserted base she sees mysterious figures culminating in a boy crying for help in an underground cave.  Is it her imagination, ghosts or something completely different?

I found the novel well written and researched. As someone who has visited the area a few years ago,  the detailed and beautiful description of penguins, humpback whales and other wildlife brought back images from my brief time there. The character development is thorough and the plot twist at the end quite unexpected although a little far fetched.

 The dramatic parts are complemented by several humorous episodes and the standard love interest. It raises moral and ethical questions.about science and the future of areas of pristine wilderness like Antarctica.  It explores the relationship between members of a family and the role science should play in our society

The book was published in 2016, is about 360 easy to read pages and well worth a read by those who like Australian literature.

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From the Desk of Bibi

Empowerment is the KEY!

I had forgotten when I first heard about the word ‘empowerment’. In my study of social work and counselling, I leant early on the importance of ‘Help clients to help themselves’! In my own master thesis entitled ‘Cultural Issues of Clinical Depression and the implications for Multicultural Mental Health Services’, I wrote in the concluding chapter – ‘Psychiatrists should share their power with the patients and invite them to be part of the ‘treating team’. I was awarded a high distinction for my thesis, that was 2002, exactly two decades ago.

In the most recent Creative Workshop (facilitated) by Young People for Young People, I was a co-facilitator ‘minding’ one of the three Origami Stations. Gina was a first-time facilitator sharing her passion in folding Origami cranes, lucky stars and gift bags. We had quite a few mentoring sessions (both in-person and online).   Jacque, the Co-Chair of the CFS Youth Subcommittee, with over 2 decades of Origami experience (since she was 3-year-old) was the 3rd co-facilitator. In my station, I showed a young participant how to fold a jumping frog.  She found it a bit challenging. She asked me to help her fold a particular step. I replied to say, ‘I can help you to try again yourself!’ It actually took more time to help her help herself than for me to just do it for her!  She did eventually ‘got it’ and she repeated the same step three more times. Each time it was easier than the previous time. I helped her fold a total of two ‘jumping frogs’.  I told her ‘Practice makes perfect!’ 

The principle of ‘empowering young people to help themselves’ also applies to problem solving. Another participant couldn’t go on to fold the next step of an Origami Rose. She asked me for help. I took a look and made a few ‘reverse-folds’ back to the point where a wrong fold was made. I also did the reverse-fold of my ‘demo’ one. Then I ‘folded’ along with the participant step-by-step. I could see the ‘light-bulb’ movement on her face! “Got it!” Once again, I could have just done it for her, why bother wasting time to reverse-fold twice. The simple answer was- help the participant help herself!

I assume most managers on community development or enhancement projects would have read some ‘textbook cases’ (similar to the ones I shared above) of ‘empowerment’. Perhaps due to constraint of resources, budget and lack of infrastructure support, they have to cut corners. That was definitely the case of my colleague at a Federal Project addressing the needs for mental health services for people from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) background. The ideal scenario would be – employing a bottom-up approach by handing the ‘power’ to the consumers at a forum to voice their concern and discuss how they would make changes for the better. The reality was my colleague took the instructions from his immediate supervisor to let the big boss ‘lecture’ the forum participants on what the Government put on the table. Quite a few of my colleagues quit the project, I also left to return to UNSW and continued my mental health research. That was 15 years ago. This Federal project was defunded the following year. I couldn’t help thinking this was a textbook case of community development ended prematurely.

Fast forward to 20th April 2022, the Community Flower Studio (CFS) became an official member of the Australia Charities and Not-for-Profit Council. I am forever grateful to the Committee and the Consultants to support CFS to reach this milestone. I hope CFS will continue to empower young people who cross our path.  


From Small Things Big Things Grow! By Carol Sudul

It started with an idea.  My friend Bibi approached me and said that she wanted to set up a place where she could help young people with mental health challenges. They could learn new skills and feel a sense of achievement through attending creative art workshops.

Our first ‘gag’ was hosting a flower stall on the 2019 election day at her church during (a voting centre). It turned out to be a success.  We handed out a free stem of Gerbera to people wandering near the ‘Democratic Sausages Stand’ if they agreed to fill out our survey. It asked questions about how often they bought fresh flowers from shops and for how much.  This gave us a good insight into what the public wanted. Survey results showed that customers would want ‘value for money’ and flowers that would last for a very long time.

Carol with a happy customer at a pop-up stall

With the survey results indicating a potential demand, Bibi chatted with the owner of the local café about hosting a monthly pop-up stall outside the café. She also negotiated with Willoughby City council to waive the hiring costs as CFS was a Not-for-Profit organisation. Each month we sold flesh bouquets and succulent terrariums to passers-by.  I felt our success was based on the fact that I always told customers we bought the flowers fresh from the market on Friday morning.  We then sold them on Saturday mornings. Customers could enjoy the most out of the flowers with no refrigeration of the stems.

Our prices are extremely reasonable and that is made obvious with heaps of customers giving a tip or a donation. I also learnt from our customers that a lot of them heard of us from Willoughby Living – a Facebook Group (like a digital version of Neighbourhood Watch).  We have a lot of local return customers.  The wonderful thing I find is that the locals read about us on Willoughby Living and just want to come and buy something to support a good cause. 

I love the pop-up stalls.  I love interacting with the local community and we learn from talking to others.  I have watched a few young ladies and young men taken under Bibi’s wings as she showed them the ropes.  They learnt skills with flower arranging. Most importantly, they learnt how to serve and interact with customers.  They all got permanent jobs as their confidence grew from helping out at our pop-up shops.

First Succulent Terrarium Workshop in Sept 2020

The CFS Creative workshops came next – two hours of workshops at exceptional prices (to cover the cost of materials). Since CFS was awarded a small community grant, the creative workshops became free to young people (11 – 25 years). They learnt how to make succulent terrariums. The workshops went so well that we now also offer flower arranging workshops, mixed-media art and origami workshops. Bibi is constantly developing new workshops with young members, adopting a model of co-design and co-produce.

Covid-19 hit and we couldn’t do our workshops so we ran on-line workshops in Sept and Oct 2021. To our happy surprise, these virtual workshops took off with a boom. They were attended by participants around Australia (Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and ACT). We then realised that we should also keep our online workshop to breakthrough the geographical barriers.

While all this was happening, we started our strong committee and now we have reached a new milestone- the Community Flower Studio is officially recognized as a Not-for-Profit organisation (a member of ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Council).  

As the saying goes “from small things big things grow” and that is exactly what happened: from Bibi’s idea to find a way to help young people.  It is now just over two years since we started, I have watched young people learn new skills and older people like me learn new tricks.  It is lovely to see parents and young people doing a workshop together. We believe it takes a community to support youth facing mental health challenges. The COVID-19 Pandemic has given ordinary people the permission to talk about their mental health! May CFS continue to grow and reach out to more people in the community.

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.