Meet florists for ‘celebrities and royalty’ at Y’all Means All Natchez fundraiser

Published 5:10 pm Thursday, April 20, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — This Saturday, the non-profit Y’all Means All Natchez celebrates Earth Day while supporting mental health services with its Spring fundraiser, “Blooming by the River.”

The event lasts from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church fellowship hall, where guests will hear presentations from notable designers and florists, enjoy lunch and participate in live auctions of the featured works of art. Tickets are $80 each.

President of Y’all Means All Michael Gray said the last fundraiser of this type that the organization hosted was in 2019 on the terrace of The Elms, when local designer and Nest owner John Grady Burns was the organizer.

Email newsletter signup

This year Gray and his partner Gerard “Gerry” Toh, who is also a floral designer, have taken the helm of hosting the event, which isn’t hard with a slew of volunteers and support behind them, Gray said.

“Thank Natchez. This City has always been vital and hugely supportive of our cause,” Gray said.

Y’all Means All Natchez is an LGBTQIA+ Ally community organization that supports mental health and suicide prevention services in the Miss-Lou area.

The Rev. Joan Gandy of First Presbyterian didn’t hesitate to offer accommodations for the event and seven different designers from “all over,” volunteered to show off their skill and share their knowledge, Gray said.

“The last year we did it, people couldn’t wait to get their hands on (the designs),” Gray said. “It was a sellout. It was hugely successful. We’re looking to one-up that this time and take this opportunity to embellish it and make it bigger and better.”

“We will have people here who have done flowers for the White House and certain royalty,” added Lauren Allbright, Y’all Means All supporter. “There will be seven (presentations) on everything from gardening and horticulture, taking care of indoor and outdoor plants to design and decoration.”

These seven presenters are: Michael Quesada with David Nadeau of Kaleidoscope Flowers in Santa Barbara, California; Carol Caggiano, who has decorated the White House for Christmas, created a US Postage stamp and works her magic at Teleflora; John Grady Burns, owner of Nest in Natchez who boasts a 25-year career teaching floral design at Kennesaw State University and Halls Wholesale Florist School of Design; Susie Person, a “much sought-after designer” working in China and the United Kingdom; Becky Vizard, who created her own luxury pillow industry from her world headquarters in St. Joseph, Louisiana; Smokye Joe Frank, a local expert sure to “dazzle you” with facts and tips on local native plants; and Gerry Toh, who brings his honed floral design skills with an “international flair,” Allbright said.

There will also be a question-answer forum after the presentations for those who want to know more. Each of the artists’ designs will be auctioned off, with all proceeds being used to benefit organizations that align with Y’all Means All Natchez’s mission, Gray said.

“No matter what the activity is, all of our funds go back into the community,” he said. “We work to not have any kind of cost to keep the organization going.”

Coming up on May 20, Y’all Means All Natchez will host a 5K “Green Ribbon Run” on the Natchez Bluff followed by the organization’s annual “Gayrage Sale” at the Crooked Letter Pictures production company on High Street.

For more information or to register, visit