Newsletter March 2022

Harmony Day celebrations

Harmony Month! by Dr. Bibiana Chan

It sounds ironic to celebrate ‘Harmony Month’ in the Land of Oz when the parts of the world are at War. My heart goes to the people in Ukraine and Australians with loved ones in Ukraine fighting for their country or fleeing to neighbouring countries. Sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower. When I wrote about Sunflowers in the ‘Flower of the Month’ for last month’s e-Newsletter, I mentioned the ongoing conflicts between Ukraine and Russia. Who would have thought a few weeks later, Putin declared war on Ukraine and sent in tanks? Learn more about the fast-changing developments of this war from Global Conflict Tracker here:  

Yes, March is Harmony Month! Every year on 21st March, children and adults are encouraged to wear ‘orange’ to celebrate Harmony Day which is the United Nation’s International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination! It is a big day in the calendar of the Community Flower Studio (bigger than Valentine’s Day)! Our ‘Live in Harmony’ Pop-up Stall is held on Sat 12th March outside Little Giant Roaster Café (525 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby). Australia is the most multicultural country in the Southern Hemisphere with over 300 ancestries identified by Australians. Almost half of those who called Australia home were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas! More fun facts can be found from the infographics at the end of this e-Newsletter. Drop by our pop-up stall on 12th March to chat to our friendly volunteer. CFS is giving away a ‘Live in Harmony’ pot plant (2 varieties of Polka Dots in one pot) for every customer. Our signature ‘Happy Bunch’ (7 stems of Gerbera with Viburnum leaves) will surely brighten up your Harmony Month! Our best-seller Rosie Posies (arranged using local fragrant garden roses) are sourced from a farm in Dural, NSW. CFS is proud to be a sustainable florist – buying from local growers to reduce carbon footprint. All net proceeds will support our creative workshops by young people for young people and fund our ‘Help Me Grow’ Traineeship.   If you are into cooking, here are some Harmony Month recipes.

CFS takes pride in embracing multiculturalism and be inclusive. To reach out to people from Cantonese-speaking background, I created a page with podcasts from 13 episodes broadcast on Radio 2ac (Dec 2021 to March 2022). Transcripts in simplified Chinese (and English as well as other languages) will be available soon.

For teenagers and young people: ReachOut put together some tips for how to make the most of Harmony Week. Celebrating Harmony | Cultural Identity | ReachOut Australia

To entertain your little ones, why not try this Harmony Day Paper Hands Craft as a family bonding activity. Bring your masterpiece to ‘show & tell’ to impress the teacher and school friends!

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:

Harmony Week Sat 12/3

Autistic Awareness Month 9/4

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

McKayla, a young CFS member, sent me to share with our e-Newsletter readers about her experience at a recent ‘Succulents in Colour-Sand Glass Workshop’.

” This Saturday CFS had their first in-person workshop after a rough few months of being online! All participants had a lovely time, pushing through the difficult weather to make some beautiful sand paintings. A mix of many different generations, we all had something to learn from each other! It is good to be back in person.”

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


Phlox Paniculata

March is Harmony Month. I did a quick Google search and found this flower which symbolise ‘Harmony, friendship, partnership and unity! Yay!

Phlox paniculate or Garden Phlox is the most common cultivate. Phlox is a genus of 67 species of perennial and annual plants in the family Polemoniaceae mostly native to North America. These plants have strong stems and clusters of small, star-shaped flowers. The five-petal blooms come in a wide range of colours, white, yellow, pink, purple, red, lavender, rose, magenta. They are hardy and easy to grow. The name comes from the Greek word for flame or light, in reference to the flower colour of many species. These plants were used by Native American tribes for various purposes including food, medicine, meditation, decoration and hygiene. Phlox was brought to Europe in the 1700s where it enjoyed popularity as a  

Phlox :CC BY-SA 3.0,

A myth from ancient Greece says that phlox flowers were created from the discarded torches used by Odysseus and his men when they descended into the underworld. When they threw away their torches, the flames transformed into phlox flowers, as a sign of their bravery.

Phlox can be found in different sizes, from dwarf species only around 10 cm (4 inches) in height to some reaching 120 cm (4 ft) tall. It prefers moist, but well drained soil, with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.5.

Phlox is relatively easy to grow. I tried it before until I have to make frequent overseas trips. I turned to growing succulents. Here are 2 YouTube videos to offer you some inspirations: Flower Hill Farm presents Growing Annual Phlox as Cut Flowers.

Phlox- Propagate from Cuttings

By Nadiatalent – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

March Creative Workshop

FAME (Floral Arrangements Made Easy) Workshopby Bibi & young CFS members. Register today

McKayla co-facilitating Terrarium Workshop with Bibi

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.:

Yucca Filamentosa
Soft-tip Yucca Glorisa
Yucca Elata
Yucca Flaccida
Flowering Yucca Aloifolia

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. There are around 50 species with notable rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and arid parts of the Americas and the Caribbean.

Golden Sword

The Yucca plant is a widely popular evergreen drought tolerant garden perennial. the most common cultivates are Yucca aloifolia, Yucca filamentosa, Yucca gloriosa. There are also plenty of awesome variegated forms to choose from, e.g. Yucca flaccida. Yucca is often grown to give a striking architectural effect to a garden. Yucca with soft tips can also be grown indoor. This plant is famous for its tolerance of hot and dry conditions, and for surviving general neglect. It can be as tall as 8m, but easily controlled by pruning. Here are some practical tips for growing yucca:

  • Plant out at any time of the year in full sun, in a soil that does not sit wet. This plant thrives in low pH, high pH, sandy soil or clay, Yucca will be happy in just about anything.
  • Yucca will grow really well in containers too. Use a heavy pot, so that it doesn’t tip over as the plant becomes top-heavy.
  • Yucca with soft tips is suitable for indoor, provided it gets lots of light. If you can give it a rest outdoors occasionally, especially for a wash down and a freshen up, this will definitely help.

Yucca has very few maintenance requirements. Yucca is rarely affected by pests or diseases, but watch out for things like scale insects, particularly if growing indoors. These can be controlled with a garden insecticide if their numbers build up.

You will be amazed at how easy it is to propagate yucca from cut-off pieces of mature plants. Simply strip the bottom leaves off these pieces and put each into a pot filled with good-quality potting mix. Water well for a few weeks, roots form relatively quickly. Then, reduce watering to about once a week.

Here are two YouTube clips to demonstrate how to propagate Yucca and see the progress 6 months later.

Yucca Aloifolia

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Recipe of the Month

The Banana Cake by Nikki Nyam


4 eggs;
Vegetable oil 35 ml (an alternative to butter);
Banana 50 g or 1/4 cup4 eggs;
lemon juice 1/2 tsp;
Cake flour 50 g or 1/3 cup;
Salt 1/8 tsp
Caster sugar 50 g or 1/4 cup;
Walnuts 50 g (chopped), optional

Preheat your oven to 350° F (180 °C) and place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Spray a 21.5 x 11.5 x 8 cm loaf pan with a non-stick vegetable cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas. Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg and lemon juice. In another large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Then combine the banana mixture with the flour mixture. Stir just until all the ingredients are moistened. Add walnuts if you like. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or offset spatula. Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before removing the Banana Cake from the pan.


  • The key to making the best sweet banana bread/cake with rich banana flavor is to use very ripe bananas. You want your bananas to have lots of brown spots on them.
  • To make dairy-free banana bread/cake, use coconut oil instead of butter in the recipe.
  • Mix a few nuts or chocolate chips into the batter to make banana nut bread or chocolate chip banana bread. If you like blueberries in your banana bread, try this healthy blueberry banana bread recipe.

Book Review

by Kim Wilkins

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


This American story, written in 1963 (published using the pen name Victoria Lucas) and set in 1950s USA, was the only novel written by this author who committed suicide shortly after it was published. Most of her earlier work was in poetry.  It is highly regarded by many and is often on the list of the 100 best books of all time.

The central character, Esther, is an intelligent 19-year-old from Massachusetts who is given an internship at a New York ladies magazine. The book is in 2 parts.

The first part covers her time in New York city in a girls dormitory where she is torn between 2 female friends , one a party girl who gives her a taste of contemporary social life and the other more conservative.  I enjoyed this part as it gives a glimpse of New York social life at the time.

When she returns home a depression descends on her, the Bell Jar, and she makes several suicide attempts.  Maybe it is just me but I found this part hard to take.

The book is undoubtedly well written and concise, only about 250 pages.  However, I found it a bit disjointed.  Most of the interesting characters we meet in the first half disappear in the second.

The attraction of this book is its topic.   It is before its time in both its feminism and its approach to mental illness.   Undoubtedly based on the experiences of the author, it is one of these books whose prominence lies in its place in the development of modern literature and in the approach to its subject matter.


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From the Desk of Bibi

What happened to you, Grace?

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).

I am very grateful that I now live in the Land of Oz where freedom of speech is respected. In the last few weeks, there were many discussions on Grace Tame (2021 Australian of the Year) giving ‘side-eyes’ to the Australia Prime Minister Mr. Scott Morrison and his wife at the reception of the ceremony for 2022 Australian of the Year. The first lady Mrs. Jenny Morison appeared on a TV current affairs program expressing disappointment at what she called ‘disrespectful behaviour’. However, I was disappointed with her ignorance of the ‘trauma-informed’ model of care offered to sexual assault survivors (Grace is one of them). It is of utmost importance to provide an atmosphere that allows individuals to feel validated and with each and every contact at the service providers. Obviously, in Mrs Morrison’s mind, she was asking this question, ‘What’s wrong with you, Grace? Could you have some manners at the Lodge?’

I wish Mrs. Morrison would have some empathy for Grace and instead ask ‘What happened to you, Grace?’

Grace might then feel safe without judgement to tell you that she received a phone call from a powerful man just 5 months after her Australian of the year award. This man told her to shut up and not to criticise the Prime Minister. Perhaps she would also explain that this incident retraumatise her of the painful experience of her powerful teacher. This teacher warned her not to disclose to anyone about his repeated rapes on her!  

I truly admire Grace for daring to show her authentic self, to express her negative feelings to the world, and to have caused discomfort to some. By bottling up this deep-rooted anger that many powerless people experienced resulted in poor mental health! I can see some parallels in those experienced racial discrimination frequently in their attempts to integrate into mainstream societies. Thus, we need Harmony Day – the International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination.

I am reading a book entitled ‘Fierce Self-Compassion – how women can harness kindness to speak up, claim their power and thrive’ by Dr Kristin Neff. I see Grace’s public display of her anger as the ‘Fierce Self-Compassion’ described in this book. Grace is showing the ‘Yang’ (the strength of her kindness and self-compassion for common humanity) and advocating for the voice of the sexual assault survivors to be heard! Here is a podcast by the author Dr Kristin Neff talking about her motives in writing this book.

I also consulted Team CFS (committee members and consultants) for their views. Dr Bettina Christl (CFS Vice-President) share the following thoughts with me: 

I was wondering if the issue about the recent public spotlight on Grace Tame and the transgender discrimination debate was more about how trauma survivors are treated rather than what the individual’s struggle with the spotlight is? I just wonder how the recent events may affect young people’s ability to speak out or be their true self without being victimised. 

Here are some organisations that offer resources that may be relevant:

1.     ReachOut  has great resources on a range of topics for young people, this link will take you to a Quiz: Checking in with yourself | Coping | ReachOut Australia

2.     If you are frustrated by what you heard from the news, this link is for you:  Frustrated By The News? Here’s How To Channel Your Anger | ReachOut Australia

3.     If you think you’ve read all the Harry Potter books, then what lessons have you learnt? ReachOut outlined top nine life lessons Harry and his friends can teach us. 9 things we can learn from Harry Potter | Coping | ReachOut Australia.

4.      Blue Knot Foundation has resources about complex trauma. 

5.     If you are concerned about discrimination towards some friends due to their sexual orientation, Twenty10 offers mental health and social support to the LGBTQIA+ community including young people 

6.     If you are caring for someone experienced trauma, this YouTube clip may be helpful:  

7.     If you know some individuals who may be struggling in life due to childhood trauma, this may help them see there is light at the end of the tunnel For Survivors – Towards recovery for adults who have experienced childhood trauma (AUSLAN and AD) – YouTube

From a different vantage point: Ms Carol Sudul (e-Newsletter Coordinator) reflected on lives impacted by trauma.

I truly believe the importance of having an open and honest dialogue with friends and loved ones about uncomfortable topics such as public display of anger or calling out those who are


Trauma – A difficult time. A time to listen to people that have experienced terrible acts during their life. A time to support the victims.

By Carol Sudul

At the moment in the news, there are many debates on how to act (display annoyance) when they have experienced trauma in their lives.  Rather than looking at what is the right way to act when you have experienced major traumatic events. I just want to say that once you have experienced major trauma, your life is turned upside down for years, possibly for your whole life.  Not only are the victims of these traumatic events have their lives turned into a mess but also for their immediate families. Everything was suddenly turned upside down. It affects them all for years, especially if it has happened to their child. In these difficult times, you would think everyone would band together to support the person who experienced the trauma. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. Instead of taking this as the time to offer help, people take sides. They put forward their opinions of what they feel the person should have done. Some even blame the victims. Small gestures like being there to listen or giving them some flowers can make a huge difference.  Oprah said “you always have many friends who want to ride in the limo with you, but a true friend is one that is willing to take the bus with you.”


Graduation Bouquet for HannahChristmas
Garden Dahlias
Green button Chrysanthemums
Christmas Terrariums
Mental health Month Virtual Terrarium workshops
Everyone belongs
Thinking of people in Ukraine

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.