Newsletter November 2022

Mental Health Month Pop-up Stall
Wellbeing Bunches to lift up your mood!


  • Sat 12 Nov – Beat the Christmas Blues Pop-up Stall outside Little Giant Roaster Café (9 am to 3 pm or until fresh bouquets are sold out)!
  • Sat 26 Nov – Flower Crown for Christmas Parties at Chatswood Youth Centre.
  • Thurs 1 Dec – AGM from 6:30 – 830 pm (via Zoom or in person at CFS Nursery with light refreshment)
  • Sat 10 Dec. Christmas Pop-up Stall outside Little Giant Roaster Café
  • Sat 17 Dec Christmas Pop-up Stall Encore outside Little Giant Roaster Café 

Reflections on events in October – Mental Health Month!

Climate Action Mixed-Media Art Workshop at Balgowlah Scout Hall

October was a very busy month for CFS! Finally, the ‘Climate Action Art Exhibition’ at Balgowlah Stockland Centre was held on 8-9 Oct. This was a collaboration between CFS and 1st Balgowlah Scout Group, thanks to a Stockland Care Grant awarded to us in April 2021. We collected answers from visitors to the art exhibition to 4 important questions about Climate Action: Why? What? When? Where? Both the Balgowlah scouts and our young members considered curating for the exhibition was an interesting and important opportunity to raise awareness on ‘climate actions’ young people could take. The post-it-notes collected will be delivered to the Federal MP for Warringah, Zali Steggall’s office.

The Mental Health Month Pop-up Stall was held at Willoughby Uniting Church as part of their Spring Festival. The weather was perfect for a community event! We handed out 16 Wellbeing Bunches to our customers who purchased a Rose bouquet from us. This was the 3rd month in a row that CFS ran this ‘Petal-it-Forward’ campaign. We were grateful to the generous donations by our members and supporters. All net proceeds ($202) from the sale were donated to Syria Refugees.  

For the first-time, the CFS Creative Workshops by Young People for Young People was attended by more boys than girls! Playing with Colour-Sand seemed to attract the boys. The different texture of the sand (course and fine) and the huge spectrum of choices were the drawcards! The use of vibrate and bold colours was one observation of the differences between boys and girls! I wonder whether this is Nature or Nurture!     

Two CFS members currently studying a master’s degree in art therapy at University of Western Sydney. Their artwork was part of an Integrated Art & Therapy Student Exhibition. Here is a virtual tour of the exhibition.

If you would like to order a DIY Succulent Terrarium or Colour-Sand Kit for Christmas, check out the CFS online Shop.

The CFS Christmas Collection.

Beat the X’mas Blues Pop-up Stall on Sat 12th Nov. at 9 am till 3pm or when fresh flowers sold out! Our popular ‘Petal-it-Forward’ Campaign is RUNNING AGAIN! Grab a ‘Beat the X’mas Blues Bunch to petal it forward! Find us outside Little Giant Roaster Cafe (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby)!

The Petal-it-Forward Campaign is proudly sponsored by generous donations from our members and supporters. Donations to CFS are tax deductible. Donate – Community Flower Studio

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


Anemone is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae (commonly called windflowers). They are native to the temperate and subtropical regions of all continents except Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica. Anemones are beautiful with nodding blooms on long wiry stems. The foliage looks similar between varieties, but size and bloom times vary between spring, summer, or fall.

Pinkish-red Anemones

Fun Facts:

Perennial anemones are easy to grow, and once established, they can create large colonies of plants for grand displays. Anemones are spread by underground rhizomes that multiply readily; in some cases, they can be almost aggressive spreaders.

Many spring-blooming anemones are ephemeral, meaning the foliage will die back in summer, and plants will go dormant. This can happen quickly if the soil is allowed to dry too much or too often. Keeping the soil evenly moist is also essential for fall bloomers

Anemones can grow to 30-40cm in height and 10cm in width. For best results, plant anemones in well-drained soils rich in organic matter. The extra organic matter keeps consistent moisture in the soil.

Plant in full sun, 15cm apart with the corn 4cm below the soil level. For best results soak the corns in water for about 1-2 hours before planting as this will promote early sprouting.

You can leave these corms in the ground or dig them up once the foliage has died back. If you lift them, store them somewhere cool and dry over Summer and replant in Autumn.

White Anemones

Here is a Greek Mythology associated with Anemones.  

Adonis and Aphrodite have a great love story that inspired writers like Ovidius and Shakespeare. One day, Adonis was hunting through the forest followed by Aphrodite in her chariot. Ares, Aphrodite’s ex-lover, grew jealous of her relationship with the mortal and attacked him disguised as a boar. Aphrodite covered his wound in nectar and carried his body out of the woods in an attempt to save him, but his soul had already departed to the underworld. The crimson anemones were said to have grown where each drop of blood and nectar landed. The anemone’s association with the mythic love of Aphrodite and Adonis led to the flower symbolizing unfading love.

How to plant Anemones (Blubs/Corms) by horticulturist Naomi Jones:

The seasons Naomi mentioned were for the Northern hemisphere. You have to make adjustment if you are residing in the Southern hemisphere like me.

Growing Anemone from bulb to flower: from day 1 to day 115 day. The full cycle from when the bulbs were planted in the pot (Day 1), the sprouts emerged, flower buds turned into blooms and finally the leaves turned yellow to return the nutrients to the bulb (Day 115). 

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan

Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller Silver leaves

Dusty Miller (Jacobaea maritima) is native to the Western and Central Mediterranean region, in North-West Africa: Morocco, northern Algeria, Tunisia; Southern Europe: Spain, Gibraltar, southern France including Corsica, Italy including Sardinia and Sicily, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece, as well as the far West of Asia: Turkey. It occurs primarily on cliffs and rocky coastal sites, more rarely inland

Dusty Miller grown in rows in the farm.

 It can thrive at most soil pH levels, and it can even tolerate some partial shade. If grown in a shady spot, Dusty Miller’s iconic silvery sheen dissipates and is replaced by a gray-green color instead. It will also become leggy and stretched out, in an attempt to reach for more sunlight.

Flowers of Dusty Miller

Formerly known botanically as Senecio cineraria, it has more recently been recategorized in the Jacobaea genus, part of the Asteraceae family. It is also known as silver ragwort, 

The dusty Miller leaves enhanced the elegance of this rose bouquet.

Dusty Miller is one of my favourite silver (non-green) foliage to add ‘tons of elegance’ to the overall bouquet.

Thanks to its Mediterranean origin, dusty miller is heat and drought tolerant, although it loves full sun. It prefers well-drained, moderately rich soils. The leaves die back when temperatures are consistently below freezing. Plants that survive the winter will die back to the crowns, and vigorous new growth will emerge in late spring, so the dead foliage should be cut back in fall or late winter. It is relatively easy to take tip cuttings from semi-hard wood in the summer. 

Silver Miller used in this ‘elegant’ bouquet

Propagate Dusty Miller in soil or water:

Where does the silver look come from?

The leaves of this herbaceous species are covered with fine matted hairs, giving them a felted or woolly, silver or white appearance. When wet the underlying green leaf becomes more visible, and the white color is not as intense when grown in the shade.

Close-up of the fine matted hairs on the surface of the leaves.
The green colour shos when the leaves are wet.

Dusty miller cutting at 3:41 min showing root growth at a leaf node.

The silver leaves of Dusty Miller complement the white Geraldton Wax flowers very well.

The white Geraldton Wax flowers are very well complemented by the silver Dusty Miller.

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Recipe of the Month

Edible Flowers – Nasturtium

Suggested by Mable

The Medicinal Benefits of Nasturtium and Couch Grass

Simple Recipes:

For an appetizer, stuff flowers with softened cream cheese or goat cheese mixed with fresh herbs.

Minced leaves and flowers make a delicious tangy compound better for fresh bread, seafood, steak and vegetables. And as a plate garnish, the old beauty of the flowers is supreme!

When selecting edible flowers, the use of clean organic gardening practices delivers the healthiest results.


This nasturtium salad uses both nasturtium leaves and flowers, along with Rockets, strawberries, and a quick vinaigrette. Make it for a quick and easy summer salad!

Author: Sarah Trenalone


Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian. Servings: 4 people;  

Nasturtium Salad

  • 100 g Rockets
  • 1 large handful nasturtium flowers + leaves, leaves roughly chopped if desired
  • 1 cup strawberries, cored + sliced
  • ⅛ cup sesame seeds


  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Toss together all salad ingredients.
  2. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together. Toss dressing with salad. Serve immediately.

Conversation with the Authors

by Bruce Shapiro

What Happened to You? by Dr. Bruce Perry & Opray Winfrey

How does childhood adversity shape adult lives? And how can we tell better stories about it? In their book, “What Happened to You?” (Macmilln, 2021), Oprah Winfrey and psychiatrist Bruce Perry, M.D. explore the science and stories behind childhood trauma. Winfrey and Dr. Perry joined Dart Center executive director Bruce Shapiro on September 22, 2021, for a conversation about the book, as well as trauma, resilience, neuroscience and the news agenda.

Notes by Dr Bibiana Chan:
In my submission to ACNC (Australian Charities & Not-dor-Profit Commission) to apply for CFS as a health promotion organisation.,I discussed how Dr Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Brain Function could be used to explain the significance of the creative activities offered at our workshops. Engagement of creative activities serves 2 major function –

  1. The repetitive rhythmic action in creating art (e.g. origami folding, Chinese calligraphy, knitting etc.) serves as a self-regulate mechanism to manage the perceived and/or stress.      

Model of upside-down triangle version of the brain: Bottom- Brainstem & Diencephalon Middle- Limbic Top- Cortex-

2. When the creative activities take place in a community setting, it helps build relational regulation. This kind of human interaction connect an individual to a group to reduce the sense of vulnerability. It also helps establish an affiliation that protect and keep one safe.  

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From the Desk of Bibi

Managing Societal Expectations! There is ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’ in creating a Colour-Sand Glass!

In my role as a florist in the past 8 years, I learnt the importance of meeting customer’s expectations. I shared this ‘insight’ at one of the CFS ‘Creative Workshop by Young People for Young People’. As an ice-breaker activity, I asked participants to take turns to tell us what their expectations were from the ‘Mindfulness Origami workshop’. To wrap up this activity, I said, ‘I hope my co-facilitators and myself could meet your expectations.’  I received a comment from one of the participants that she found this discussion very useful.

My teacher said this ‘Trojan Horse‘ was my best work!

At last month’s Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass Workshop, one of the instructions provided to each participant was ‘There is NO ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ regarding how to paint the glass jar. Just imagine the tip of the straw is your ‘paint brush’. The colour sand is your paint.’

The part of this instruction was the advice from my art teacher Leonel Sanchez Sanchez. He is my first art teacher who could see some potential in me when I took a ‘Mixed-Media Class’ with him at Mosman Community College in 2006. There was a 2nd part of his advice: what appears to be the ‘wrong’ as described by your critics became your ‘style’! I kept this advice in my heart! Imagine myself as the young Picasso developing my own style! That year was a challenging time as I had a relapse of clinical depression. I cut down from working full-time to 3 days a week. All a sudden I had free time to nurture my inner self!

My first serious mixed-media art project Please Take a Seat!

I have since attended numerous art classes learning a variety of media in Sydney, perhaps trying to make up for lost time! I now call myself a mixed-media artist. My favourite media are charcoal, pastel, acrylic, dried flowers and leaves, paper (cutting). I reflect on my first art education experience as a 5-year-old growing up in HK – I was always good at handicraft! However, I was always told that I didn’t draw like the ‘thing’ I was supposed to draw by numerous art teachers. Could you imagine I almost failed my art subject at high school?

paper cuttings by Bibi

I think my story resonated with the experience of a young participant at the recent colour-sand workshop. She told me at the start of the workshop that she liked earthy colours. During the course of the workshop, she was very careful in adding small spoonful of different colour sand into her glass. I checked on her progress and described the effect as ‘nudging’. I praised her for her very attentive approach and experimenting with other ways from my demonstration. It took courage to stand out from her peers! This is a classic example of what I meant by ‘There is no Right & Wrong’ in painting the glass jar!’ I observed the interactions between this participant and her parents (when picking her up). I could see a slight ’disappointment’ on the parent’s face. This was the ‘classic’ reaction of ‘you didn’t ‘paint’ it like you were supposed to do’. I came to the rescue and said, ‘I think she really enjoyed the process! We discussed how this was similar to the ‘nudging’ effect achieved with your fingers blending various soft pastel colours together!’ I also asked for a ‘confirmation’ from the little girl! ‘YES!’ I loved to see the smile on her face!’ I think this courageous 11-year-old has a lot of potential in her creative journey! Looking forward to seeing her at the next workshop!       

The ‘nudging’ effect created by the young participant.
My attempt to copy Picasso!

P.S. In researching the nudging technique in soft pastel, I accidentally discovered the ‘Nudge Theory’. If you have 29 minutes to spare, this presentation by Prof Nick Hulbert-Williams, Professor of Behavioural Medicine at the University of Chester: ‘Changing Behaviour to Keep People Health: The Psychology Behind Nudge Theory’!

If you only have 5 minutes, this is a great intro for you: What is nudging?


Raise Awareness for Mental Health

By Rachel C

Colour-Sand Glass created by Cherry

I first knew Dr Bibi and her Community Flower Studio (CFS) from the Willoughby Living Facebook page. Dr Bibi, a mental health researcher with a PhD and an enthusiastic florist, has wisely combined her expertise and interest to find a non-profit organization – CFS to promote youth mental health.

I visited her stall to buy beautiful flowers on RUOK? Day, and signed my daughter up for her floral arrangement and “succulents in colour-sand glass” workshops. I was thrilled to see my daughter bringing home beautiful flower bouquets and succulents with a big smile.

Dr Bibi is so kind to offer the workshops free of charge to the youth with the support from the public through donations and proceeds from CFS flower stall and workshops.

I hope Dr Bibi’s kindness and call for mental health awareness could be extended more widely to benefit more people.

Be creative!

Imagine these sachets of as your paint

Raw materials for the workshop

DIY Kits
Yin-Yang by Bibi (Soft Pastel & Charcoal)
My Princess by Bibi (Charcoal)
Where is my Princess?
CONFUSION – mixed media
Mixed-media – Have a Toast!
Christmas Picnic 2010 with my art teacher and fellow artists

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.