Newsletter Oct 2021



There are so many things worth celebrating in October! Residents in Greater Sydney finally are sure of a date when Stage I of the Roadmap of Out of Lockdown will be implemented. It is Mon 11/10 when the adult vaccination rates in NSW passed 70%. The Stay-at-Home order will be lifted for the fully vaccinated. This is perfect timing for the Community Flower Studio (CFS) Team to go around metropolitan Sydney delivering Terrarium Kits to participants signed up to a series of 4 Mental Health Month Creative Workshops on the weekend of 16-17/10.   To resonate with this year’s WHO (World Health Organisation) theme on “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality, our workshops target the whole family. Let’s create a succulent terrarium and some paper lanterns together.  For the first time, CFS will offer  workshops in Cantonese and Mandarin in addition to English. Our marketing campaign started in mid-Sept as soon as we had images from the first virtual workshop ever hosted by CFS. The ‘Cantonese’ workshop is now full (20 registrations) and the 2 English workshops are filling up fast too. However, Mandarin-speaking communities remain the most challenging to reach. If you know any Mandarin-speaking friends who may benefit from a terrarium workshop, please pass on information to them.

In this Mental Health Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Framework developed by International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement 2019, the creative workshops offered by CFS are community services at the basic psychosocial support and focused psychosocial support. The major objective is to promote positive mental health and psychosocial wellbeing to young people (and their families).

World Mental Health Day was first launched in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. As we are all very aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected. WHO produced many new materials, in easy-to-read formats, of how to take care of one’s own mental health and provide support to others too.  This is what I’ve been advocating for a long time: There is no health without mental health’

 I think this COVID-19 crisis taught us a great lesson on “Good mental health is critical to the functioning of society at the best of times”. It must be front and centre of every country’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, CFS is most concerned about Adolescent mental health. (in Simplified Chinese) Some key facts are:

  • One in six people are aged 10-19 years.
  • Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19 years.
  • Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.
  • Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds

Factors that can contribute to stress during adolescence include:

  • a desire for greater autonomy,
  • pressure to conform with peers,
  • exploration of sexual identity,
  • increased access to and use of technology,
  • Social Media influence, and
  • gender norms

To celebrate Mental Health Month, CFS launched a series of podcasts in Cantonese on There is No Health WITHOUT Mental Health . This is the first one to share some coping strategies for Beating the Lockdown Blues!

There are FREE online mental health resources available on both Beyond Blue website and Black Dog Institute website. Bite Back is the very first online positive psychology program designed to improve the overall wellbeing and resilience of young Australians aged 13 – 16 years old. “myCompass“ offers a personalised experience and can recommend learning activities that best match the individual’s needs. To find out more about Youth Beyond Blue, click here. If you are after mental health information in different languages, here is the link to ‘Let’s Talk Mental Health’ in over 20 languages. If you are worried about someone how may be experiencing some mental health challenges, you may find this link helpful.


Flower of the Month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


ROSES well deserve to be the ‘Flower of the Month’! I bet you have received roses from or given roses to loved ones or friends! Roses are depicted as the symbol of LOVE! They are not just a symbol of romance but also friendship. There is an old legend that originally all roses were white. One night, a nightingale saw a rose and fell deeply in love, inspiring him to sing a song. When his passion overtook him, he pressed himself against the flower, and when the thorns pierced his heart. Ever after, the rose was forever coloured red. Don’t you just LOVE legends like this. Here is another one: Cleopatra once received her beloved Marc Antony in a room knee-deep in rose petals, and that the rose was sacred in ancient times as it represented Aphrodite to the Greeks, symbolizing beauty and love.   

How to grow roses in Australia depends on many different factors such as the species and climate. Here are some tips from ‘Better Home & Garden’ .   As a florist, one of the FAQs (frequently asked questions) is what are the meanings of the different colours of roses. I’ll leave you to read it yourself. However, I’d like to share some interesting meanings behind the number of roses. There were a few occasions when a young man who came into the flower shop asked me how to give flowers to someone special? Here are some suggestions: a single rose indicates love at first sight while 3 roses mean I love you. If you’re dating someone and wish to take your relationship to the next level, gifting them with 6 roses is the perfect way to subtly express those feelings. I have made a few bouquets of 11 red roses for customers to tell their partners ‘You are the one!’ One of which was a ‘Proposal Bouquet’! If you want to let a special someone know they’re always on your mind, give that person 24 single rose stems. On one Valentine’s Day, I arranged a huge bouquet of 48 Roses. It represents an unchanging love. This is a vow of your LOVE! If you want to let someone know you’ll love her/him till the day you die? Give that person a bouquet containing 99 single rose stems.   

Many of my friends consider me as a ‘green thumb’ and a passionate gardener, but I also managed to kill quite a few rose plants. I should do a bit more research and pick the brains of those who have some success (read the Member’s Corner in this issue) before I plant any roses in my garden. This video offers some useful advice. If you only have 3 minutes, this is your must-watch: Top Tips for Growing Roses!

Rosa Pope John Paul
Rosa Pope John Paul
Kaffee Fassett Rose


Succulent Terrarium Workshopby Bibi & Team CFS Register today!

Date: Sat 16-17/10 Time: 1100 – 1200 or 1400 – 1500

Venue: via Zoom A link will be sent to the registered participants

Partly funded by City of Sydney Council Register as a family unit. Terrarium kits are FREE. Contactless pick-up from Willoughby or $15 postage. Send Bibi an email if you have any questions.:

A Succulent Terrarium kit
A terrarium with a headlight

Sugar Candy
A bottlebrush tree near Willoughby
Purple Cloud

Plant of the month

by Dr Bibiana Chan


Bottlebrushes are native to Australia. They are members of the genus Callistemon, (the Myrtaceae family). Callistemon means beautiful stamens. There are 40 species currently called Callistemon. Most Bottlebrushes occur in the east and south-east of Australia. Two species occur in the south-west of Western Australia. Bottlebrushes can be found growing from Australia’s tropical north to the temperate south. They often grow in damp or wet conditions such as along creek beds or in areas which are prone to floods.

Crimson Bottlebrush

Bottlebrush plants get their name from the spikes of flowers that bloom at the ends of the stems, bearing a strong resemblance to a bottle brush. Grow them as shrubs or small trees that grow up to 4.5 m. Most bottlebrush varieties bloom over a long summer season in shades of red or crimson. ‘Silver Cloud’ (C. pallidus) is popular too, it is shorter with a dense growth habit featuring silver grey foliage and plum coloured new growth. The lemon-coloured flowers appear in Summer. There are many hybrids bearing flower spikes of different colours such as cream (C. sieberi), pink flowers (Sugar Candy), purple (Purple Cloud). For more factual information, click here. Bottlebrushes make excellent garden plants. Plants are all woody shrubs. I planted 5 bottlebrushes in my garden in 2008 and they are now very well established to about 2-3 m tall. The flowers are crimson red and attract many nectar-feeding birds to my garden such as ‘Rainbow Lorikeets’. I found a YouTube video similar to what happened in my backyard when bottlebrushes were in bloom.  Many species can tolerate (or thrive in) damp conditions, yet most are very hardy and will tolerate drought and limited maintenance. They grow well in a wide variety of soils, except those which are highly alkaline. Plants grown in full sun produce the best flowers. Plants can be lightly pruned after flowering to keep them in shape. A low-phosphorus fertiliser should be applied in Spring and Autumn. Mulching will help retain soil moisture and reduce weed growth. I rarely prune mine, except when I need a few stems of native leaves to compliment the floral arrangements I created! I have 4 bottlebrush seedlings from my garden to give away, please send me an email if you want to give it a go! 

Silver Cloud
Bottlebrush Seedlings

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by Kim Wilkins

Frank Hurley – A Photographer’s Life by ALISTAIR McGREGOR.

This is a biography of one of the most fascinating Australians of the first half of the 20th century.  Born in Sydney to poor parents, Hurley first made his name by being the photographer to 2 famous Antarctic expeditions- that of Sir Douglas Mawson in 1911 – 12 and the ill-fated journey of Englishman, Sir Ernest Shakleton, 1914- 1916, where he showed considerable bravery and, through his photography, helped to make both of these journeys so famous.

Hurley followed this by being The Australian Army’s official photographer during the latter part of World War I, both on the Western Front and in the Middle East.

He developed a love of aerial photography and joined with Ross Smith for the last leg of his first ever flight from London to Sydney. Later exploits included an expedition into the highlands of New Guineau, a view of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and in WW2 a time with the army when it was besieged in Tobruk.

The author shows his subject’s strength and weaknesses  Hurley was a great showman making films of his exploits but was inclined to exaggerate his own exploits for publicity, tell untruths on occasions and have conflicts with many of his contemporaries.


Chocolate lava cake

by Anthony Ni

Ingredients for Pastry

  • Castor Sugar 40 g
  • Chocolate 120g
  • Unsalted butter 100g
  • Eggs x 4 (220g)
  • Plane white flour 60 g
  • Salt 0.5g

Freshly baked egg tarts from the oven onto the cooling rack.


  1. Preheat oven to 210 Celsius
  2. Heat Chocolate and butter in microwave in 30 seconds then stir until combined.
  3. Heat again for 15 seconds to make sure the mixture is combined.
  4. Then whisk in eggs in high speed using an electronic mixer.
  5. Add in sugar and sifted in flour. Use a spatula to gently combined all ingredients.
  6. Add in Chocolate mixture that are less then 40 degrees Celsius.  
  7. Grease the mould with butter. Pour in the mould up to 80% full and freeze for at least half hour.
  8. Bake at 220 Celsius for 8 minutes. Enjoy!

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Riding on top of the waves – breaking down barriers to accessing mental health services.

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


In 2000 Ifirst watched the inspiring movie ‘Pay it Forward’ which was set in Las Vegas. The movie depicted the story of 11-year-old Trevor McKinney’s launch of a goodwill movement known as “pay it forward“.  When I was doing a research exchange at Yale (USA), some of my colleagues practised ‘pay it forward’ by paying for the bill of the next order in a ‘drive-in’ queue of a fast food outlet.  Last month, while I was looking for inspiration for the e-Newsletter, I came across a movement called launched by the Society of America Florists (SAF) in 2015.. Volunteers handed out bouquets of flowers to unsuspecting strangerswho are then encouraged to ‘pay it forward’ and give away another bouquet to pass on the kindness. What a great way to show compassion and spread joy!

It was encored the following year. The YouTube clip they posted on 2/11/2016 has gone viral and so far, has attracted around 230,000 views. If you take a look at the footage, at first some passers-by were hesitant to take the bouquets from the volunteers and some were puzzled and asked, ‘Why did you give me flowers?’ But soon  people happily took the bouquets – one for them to keep; one for them to ‘petal-it-forward’ to give to a friend, a neighbour or a stranger. Everyone felt so happy to embrace this joyful movement. This year on the 20th October will the 7th year SAF hosts this event. Given the isolation brought on by COVID-19, the 2021 event was needed more than ever. Florists in 44 states participated and shared joy during a challenging time while adapting their ‘petal it forwar activities to COVID-related restrictions.  

Martin Luther King Jr 1963

Since I learnt about this great initiative, I practised it myself. Due to the lockdown, I wasn’t able to visit the Flower Market in Flemington (far more than 5 km from Willoughby), I bought flowers from the local Fruit and Vege Shop which sold by bunches. I bought 3 different variety (one as focal flower, one as complementary flower and one as filler flower). I often had enough for 2 bouquets, one for myself and one to ‘Petal-it-Forward’! The joy or giving and receiving flowers have been shared by at the ‘Member’s Corner’ many times. When the lift of lockdown proceeds to Phase III – adults vaccination rates reached 90%, CFS will most likely to return to host our monthly ‘Pop-Up Stalls’! We will adapt this ‘Petal-it-Forward’ movement as ‘Buy-One-Give-One’ campaign. A customer buys a bouquet from CFS, we will give one extra for the customer to ‘Petal -it-Forward’!

A reader sharing her experience during the recent COVID-19 lockdown:

My mother was once an active gardener and has very fond memories. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, we experienced challenging moments which to a certain degree have impacted on our mental health. The isolation due to lockdown made us realise it is through connecting with other people that our mental well-being is maintained.


Growing Roses to fight the locksown blues!

By Denise T

COVID-19 has significantly changed our life, my story about finding my interest in growing roses taught me something new. We all had a hectic lifestyle before COVID-19, travelling between office and home, rarely having time to slow down and pay attention to the environment around us.  Now I have so much more time at home; I started to observe the beautiful environment around my house. One day I walked around a nearby park and noticed the roses were blooming in the garden. They are so beautiful, especially the deep red roses with an intense fragrance, the strong perfume made me feel like I was in heaven. I immediately fell in love with the roses and wished I could have one in my backyard. A council worker came to prune the roses; he pointed me to the Swane’s Nursery in Dural and told me I would find different types of premium roses there. The red one I like the most is called Mister Lincoln.

Pierre de Ronsald

Without hesitation, I made a trip to Swane’s nursery during winter 2020. Unfortunately, a lot of roses are sold out; I bought Pierre de Ronsald (pink) and The Fire Fighter (red).  Since then, I have been addicted to watch, work and care for them every day, patiently waiting for the beautiful bloom.  In 2020 Spring, both roses were blooming beautifully; the romantic appearance of Pierre de Ronsald is enough to melt anyone’s heart, the Fire Fighter with an intense fragrance and recurrent blooms lit up my house for almost the entire year.  

Fire Fighter

By May 2021, I revisited Swane’s nursery before Mother’s Day; this is when all the bare root roses became available for sale. I bought a few more English David Austin roses including Jude de Obsecure (apricot), Golden Celebration (yellow) and of course, my long awaited Mister Lincoln (red). 

Jude the Obsecure

Roses need lots of caring, full sun, daily watering, pruning, and fertilising are part of the routines.  But the hard work is rewarding; the beautiful flowers light up every day in the last three months of lockdown, now I have bigger plans to build a rose wall fence, a rose arch and get other types of roses later, I joined Facebook Rose groups sharing my experience and learning with others around the world. Perhaps, I found a new passion in life? Often life can be simple if we pay attention to those little things around us; I wish you find the little joy in your own life too.   

Golden Celebration

From Society of American Florists

Tips to Stress Less – Mental Health Month Special

Want to know how to relax and unwind? The Society of American Florists provides these easy tips on how to stress less:

  • Experience flowers: Walk into your local flower shop and take a look around. Just the sight and smell of the natural beauty of flowers will put you at ease. Ask your florist to show you what’s in the cooler so you can learn about new varieties, colors and design styles.
  • Color your world: Color therapists say colors really do affect our moods. The happiest color? Orange. It promotes optimism, enthusiasm, and a sense of uplift. Choose orange flowers — roses, gerberas, lilies, ranunculus, alstroemeria, tulips — to put on your kitchen counter or your desk, and see your mood soar.
  • Find peace: If you are having a bad day when it seems like nothing is going right, try flowers in soothing, tranquil colors, such as blues, lavenders and pale greens. Place a small arrangement on your nightstand or in your bathroom, so you can experience the stress relieving benefits of flowers right before you go to bed, and right when you get up to start your day.
  • Give yourself some joy: One great way to reconnect with joy and feel less stressed is to surround yourself with simple things that make you feel happy and loved, like a colorful bunch of flowers or a blooming plant. Flowers have the power to open hearts, and when your heart is open you are more likely to focus on the positive points in your day.
A Oriental Lily arrangement for a neighbour of 30 years.

Flowers & Plants either given to me or I sent out to friends.

This Little Bibi was given to me for my birthday.

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.