At Ffern we work with the rhythms of the seasons, blending, barrel-ageing and bottling four fragrances a year, to be released at each equinox and solstice. Working in this way has kept us side by side with nature - noticing how hedgerows change, days lengthen and full moons come and go.
Our studio, overlooking the Blackdown Hills, is filled with guides to navigating and knowing the land. J.A. Baker’s ‘The Peregrine’ and Roger Deakin’s ‘Waterlog’ are currently lying open on the table, but it is to Lia Leendertz’s ‘Seasonal Almanacs’ that we continually turn, keen to learn more about the unfolding year.
In the hope of celebrating the changes that each month brings, we set about creating a podcast. Something short, lasting only fifteen minutes or so, that you might listen to on a walk through the park, in the kitchen or by the fireside. We asked Lia Leendertz herself to be our host, drawing on her vast knowledge and research to guide us through the months ahead.
We will be making twelve episodes in total, published on the first of every month. We very much hope you enjoy the podcast and that it helps you, in the words of the poet Ray Carver, “settle deeper into the seasons.”
For our colourful November episode, we celebrate winter's brightest flowers, chrysanthemums. We share a recipe for bonfire toffee apples, explore nature's November fireworks - the Leonids meteor shower - and spend time with the remarkable Atlantic salmon, who will be swimming upriver this month.
For October, we follow the vast, though little understood migration of the European eel. We hear the tale of Merlin's apples, ponder why October's full moon is known as the Hunter's Moon, and wonder when the first frosts will reach us.
In September's episode, we track the slow drift into autumn. Hearing a tale of Ganesh and the moon, we explore the names for September's full moon, the Harvest Moon. We visit the border between France and Switzerland for a very special cheese, follow the migrations of Nathusius' pipistrelle bats, and encounter the spirit of the corn.
For our August episode, we trace the epic migrations of dragonflies along with the rasping music of the grasshopper chorus. We discuss the wonders of the Perseids meteor shower (look up on the 13th and 14th of this month) and walk through a garden meditation for August.
In this episode, we celebrate the rich offerings of July, the 'Month of the Hay'. We check in on the hedgerows, discover the delights of oxeye daisies, and explore what's happening in the skies this month, reflecting on the names for July's full moon.
For our June episode, we plan for summer. We revisit the dormice and hedgehogs we saw nesting in earlier months, hear of the epic migrations of painted lady butterflies, learn about the best methods for making jam and explore the folk traditions surrounding midsummer.
For the May episode of our podcast, we explore the changing hedgerows, the traditions and folklore surrounding May Day, how primroses can help to ward off fairies, the return of the swallows and the names of the month's full moons: Mother’s Moon, Bright Moon and Flower Moon.
For April, we explore the traditional names for the month, the changing hedgerows, the beauty of the bluebell, how to navigate by the crescent moon and why decorated eggs came to be associated with Easter.
For the March episode, we explore the traditional names for the month, the moons and the tides, the types of nest each bird is building, how to help hedgehogs as they emerge from hibernation and the history and folklore surrounding the humble daffodil.
For February, we explore the Romani name for the month, why it is the time for plans and new beginnings, the blue tit’s mating rituals, the migration of the toad and the moons that will grace our night sky. Each of the monthly chapters in Lia’s almanac ends with a folk song - for February Lia brings one to life, singing a traditional shanty.
For January, we explore the origins of the month’s name, the moons and the tides, the changing hedgerows, the traditions surrounding the first day of the new year and the different types of snow.