The enchanted florists on digging down into their online favourites, from weeds to great gardens.

From a Victorian railway arch in Shepherd’s Bush, Aesme Flower Studio creates achingly beautiful arrangements using seasonal British garden flowers grown on a farm in Hampshire. It all began six years ago when sisters, Alex Nutting and Jess Lister, swapped their office jobs for floristry, thanks to a formative trip to New York.

In 2014, Alex headed to the Big Apple on a whim to take up a fortnight’s internship at Saipua, a trailblazing florist in Brooklyn that has proved a disruptive force in the industry, rejecting wholesale any notion of formal floristry. The trip was life-changing.

Today, she and her sister Jess work from an old railway arch in Shepherd’s Bush, scrubbed up after a decade’s dereliction to become Aesme’s cavernous studio. It is a space that the sisters’ 57k loyal Instagram following knows well, their every exquisite and painterly creation documented within its aged industrial walls.



The secret of their sky-rocketing success? It has, perhaps, to do with their constant connection and commitment to the garden. That a florist should be garden-inspired may not appear revolutionary, and yet, as the sisters found before their determinative experience at Saipua, traditional floristry courses bore scant relation to the wild gardens that they had known as children growing up between London and the more rugged reaches of rural Wiltshire. The root of Aesme’s ethos is, and always has been, to capture and evoke the nostalgia of their favourite rural English idylls; their childhood; nature untamed; and tokens of their urban life too. In truth, even before the New York trip, their educations began in childhood as fellow explorers with a deeply ingrained love of plants and flowers. A beautiful garden still pulls them toward that enchanted state, back to the magical wanderings of small girls in a dappled, leafy kingdom. The garden is where the seeds were sown. It is where Aesme will always begin and end.

Aesme regularly hosts students at home as well as travelling to hold special workshops for devotees of the sisters’ tumbling, cascading style, which owes more to Vita Sackville West and Christopher Lloyd than any didactic flower school. Aspirant florists, and indeed those who want to learn casually, can and should book onto their Flower School, which offers one-week masterclasses in seasonal and sustainable floral design.

My favourite website...

Cue shameless self-promotion – ours! It showcases work we are extremely proud of and articulates the values held dearest to our little business. We absolutely love it.

My favourite app...

We’re big eBayers. We’ve always been fans of recycling, making and mending etc. eBay is great for everything from tools and props to vintage clothes.



My favourite blog...

It’s more of an online magazine but Dig Delve by Dan Pearson and Huw Morgan. It’s about gardens, landscape, growing, cooking and making. Beautiful photography, intelligently written and original.

My Internet hero...

The co-founders of MatchesFashion, Tom and Ruth Chapman. The website, the customer service, the mixing of old established brands with new small independent labels, the marble boxes, same day delivery in London – it’s just brilliant in every way.

My favourite podcast...

So many. We listen to podcasts a lot! Favourites include Desert Island Discs, The Collector’s House (Matches Fashion), Lit Up, Cultivating Place, and Honey & Co.



My favourite YouTuber...

We don’t really use YouTube often other than occasionally googling how to do things in the garden. For short inspirational videos, though, we love the Great Gardens series on Nowness.

My most recent buy online...

Workwear and capillary matting.

Last book you downloaded or read ...

Weeds by Richard Mabey.

Favourite tweeter...

We’re not tweeters or twitterers!

Favourite Instagrammer...

We love the farm-to-table restaurant, @chezpanisse. Also the photographer @willwaterworth and the farmer-chef @chefdancox.

Social media allowed me to meet...

Photographer Kristin Perers, who we have since worked with many times on shoots and workshops and is one of our favourite collaborators.

The best digital advice I've been given...

Having assistance from a digital marketing consultant over the past year has been really eye-opening for us. Especially regarding how quickly people glance at things online and keep on scrolling, whether on Instagram or a website. I think it has encouraged us to develop a more streamlined, consistent and clean aesthetic for our business but also to hone in on our core messages: growing the finest produce on our flower farm in Hampshire, and championing seasonality and sustainability. Pretty images aren’t enough.



My screensaver is...

A picture of Mavis, our Irish Terrier, looking particularly beautiful and mischievous.

My standout online memory...

Buying our domain name when we first started our business five years ago. It was such an exciting and heady time, completely life-changing. It felt like freedom.

My pet online hate is...

Rudeness and plagiarism. Both unnecessary.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions?

It’s difficult when you’re on the move a lot and keeping on top of emails/managing an Instagram account is something that has to slot into whatever time is available. When we take time off we both feel it’s important to switch off and get outside as much as possible.

As someone who runs a business at least in part online, what are your best bits of advice/ most interesting things you’ve learned?

Not to take ‘numbers’ too seriously (likes, followers etc.) They don’t equate to revenue. You have to get out there and do the work!

Image credit: Kristin Perers

By Nancy Alsop
February 2020

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