How floral designer Savannah Benton’s adventurous spirit informs the ethos and creative inspiration for Ramblin Rose Floral Co. Words and Photos by Johnie Gall.
Savannah Benton is chasing after a frog—her two-year-old daughter, Leni, perched on hip—when her dog, Buddy, goes bounding through the water in pursuit of a stick. They’re soaked, and Savannah lets out a bellowing laugh. “We are so feral right now,” she says, scooping up the amphibian to show her daughter.
Feral might not be the right word for 25-year-old Savannah, but wild might be. There’s a sense of intentional freedom about her—a feeling that seeps over into her work as the founder of Ramblin Rose Floral Co., her boutique floral design company. In place of overly structured and saccharine bouquets, Savannah creates abundant, organic-looking designs that mimic the way flowers grow in nature.
“I think flowers look their best when they mirror what they look like in the ground,” says Savannah. “I like to play with textures and height to make things look as if they were still growing my garden. Even in my installations, I’ll keep all my tulips together or my roses together like you’d find them in the wild.”
Born and raised in Southern California, Savannah spent her early years exploring her mother’s garden, plucking from the rows of roses, wisteria, and delphiniums to create bouquets for the neighbors. She learned some techniques working from florists over the years, but most of her training comes from YouTube—and her own intuition.
“As long as I can remember, I have recorded my travels through pressed flowers and plants,” she says. “I have books and notebooks filled with pressed petals and their origins.”
Savannah wears the Midform Universal Fray in Frazier White/Black.
From her time working as a nanny in Australia and serving as flight attendant at a boutique airline to days spent riding horses and motorcycles or skinny dipping in Wyoming, flowers serve as memory anchors for Savannah. That’s the kind of sensory experience she wants her clients to have—just not at the expense of the planet. Part of what Ramblin Rose seeks to offer is a more sustainable alternative to traditional flower design.
“A lot of people don’t realize how unsustainable floristry is,” she says. “Most florists use floral foam for installations and arrangements, which is very bad for the environment and even worse for your health. When I started, that’s all I knew. But as time went on, I realized how wasteful I was being and figured out alternative ways to support my flowers. Now I use and reuse chicken wire over and over.
Another thing most people don’t know is that flowers require too many resources to get to their destination—especially bouquets. In fact, 80% of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported, 93% of which are grown in Colombia or Ecuador. With all that transport comes carbon emissions that damage the environment. When flowers (like food) have to travel a long distance, they also require more resources to keep them fresh—cut flowers are usually treated with pesticides to survive the long trip to the U.S. which is why I try my best to source locally grown flowers that are cut from the ground and put into my hands.”
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I’m not sure “authentic” is something people are looking for in their flowers, but it’s the best descriptor I can think of while watching Savannah work on an installation. There’s a method to her madness, but it’s more like watching a painter with a blank canvas. The final picture is both pre-planned and apt to change with every brush stroke.
Roses meant for a bouquet get placed stem-down in the dirt, and suddenly a mauve half-moon is taking shape before us. It’s imperfect and unfinished when the sun starts setting, but it’s so rustic and beautiful I can’t help but envision it ending up on every Southern California bride’s moodboard. Savannah is totally in her element here: feet in the dirt, petals strewn everywhere, the soft evening sounds of horses and dirt bikes in the distance.
“My slogan is ‘flowers for those who grow wild.’ I’m very eclectic with my color choices and I love unique flowers. I like to keep things as raw and realistic as possible. Same goes for my life! I’m always covered in dirt and on the go. I’m constantly chasing my daughter, too,” she says, gesturing to her Teva sandals as we clean up stems. “Having a shoe that can take me on a bike, but also get wet in the river or ocean, and get me back to the car without blisters is a win in my books.”
Like most small businesses, Ramblin Rose was hit hard by COVID when every single event Savannah’s company had been hired for was cancelled. But she got creative and started hand-delivering bouquets and doing pop-up shops to make ends meet.
“I’ve really honed my craft and perfected the bouquet-making process,” she says. “I would look at 2020 and still say I had a successful year. I’m also starting a western-inspired graphic tee company with a good friend! We’re designing and screen printing everything ourselves. So if you like western wear and motorcycles and all-around badass vibes, check out @rydewildco.”
Savannah wears the Hurricane XLT2 sandals in Sage Green.
Maybe it’s because I’m watching her juggle a toddler, a golden retriever, a bucket of roses and—metaphorically at least—multiple careers, but Savannah catches something flit across my face and starts belly laughing again.
“I’ve got my foot in about 615,168 doors,” she says. “But I like it that way. I like to call myself an 80%-er. I’m 80% good at a lot of things, which is enough for most things.”
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