Big blooms and pretty petals at Macy’s Flower Show 

click to enlarge Soulflower Design is among the floral studios in the spotlight in the 2013 Macy’s Flower Show. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Soulflower Design is among the floral studios in the spotlight in the 2013 Macy’s Flower Show.

When Emily Dreblow started working with flowers, she thought it would just be for fun.

“I thought of it as a wonderful hobby,” says Dreblow, a social worker-turned-floral designer commissioned to create a piece for Macy’s Flower Show, which starts Sunday and runs through April 7 at the Union Square store.

Dreblow, founder of Soulflower Design Studio in the Dogpatch neighborhood, plans to use orchids, tropical leaves, natural textural elements and seasonal blooms such as tulips and ranunculus in her Bouquet of the Day, scheduled to be on view April 2-4.

The 2013 show’s theme, “The Painted Garden,” draws from India’s and Southeast Asia’s kaleidoscopic color and lush vegetation.

“I have a wonderful creative range to do something inspired by this year’s theme without a lot of limitations,” Dreblow says. “It’s similar to ‘Bouquets to Art’ but there’s no artwork to protect, so we have fewer plant and size restrictions.”

Eight years ago, Dreblow started Soulflower, founding the company on principles of sustainability and using organic and local resources when possible. Brad Pitt is among her clients.

It wasn’t a huge leap for the designer, who has a degree in urban studies and landscape architecture, and had returned to flower arranging once a week to avoid burnout from her social work career.

Macy’s Flower Show’s centerpiece this year is a 10-foot-tall Painted Elephant, created from thousands of flowers planted to create a living sculpture installation.

Organizers say seven semitrucks of flowers will be wheeled into the store for the show, now in its 60th year.

In addition to the amazing and colorful floral creations on display, the show also offers home decorating, cooking and floral demonstrations, as well as Bollywood dancing and Filipino music, during its two-week run.

Dreblow is among five local florists whose designs will be showcased in the “bouquet of the day” program. And notable San Francisco floral artists Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo from Studio Choo will lead a demonstration at 2 p.m. April 7; tickets to the event include a copy of their new volume, “The Flower Recipe Book.”

In another program, Macy’s is collaborating with the Mary L. Harden School of Botanical Illustration on a installation of original watercolors of plants in the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. Proceeds from sales will benefit the Grove.

Macy’s Flower Show

  • Where: Macy’s Union Square, 170 O’Farrell St., S.F.
  • When: Opens Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays; closes April 7
  • Tickets: Free to view; some events require RSVP, tickets
  • Contact: (415) 397-3333,

Select highlights

  • Bollywood dancing with UC Berkeley Azaad — 6 p.m. April 2
  • Dreblow demonstration — 2 p.m. April 4
  • Studio Choo demonstration —  2 p.m. April 7

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Lauren Gallagher

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