A Perfumer’s Guide To Somerset In Spring With Ffern’s Emily Cameron
The creative director behind the cult perfume brand shares her tips on spending a fragrant spring weekend in the English countryside
03 May, 2023
Growing up in Somerset, on the lower levels of Exmoor, Emily Cameron's childhood was suffused with beautiful smells: the honeyed notes of garden roses, a local herb farm's botanical bouquet, the bundles of sage that hung in her family bathroom. "I realised how important scent had been in our lives," she tells SUITCASE. "I set out to create fragrances that could help other people make memories."
Ffern flagship, left, and inside the Soho shop | Photo credit: Edvinas Bruzas
The sensory backdrop of her childhood inspired Ffern, a couture perfumery created to restore the art of scent to its artisan roots. Launched by Cameron and her brother Owen Mears, the brand's subscription model supplies fragrances that are organic, vegan and produced using high-quality, sustainably sourced ingredients. Releasing just four fragrances a year, the team aims to craft an ever-changing fragrance landscape that aligns the wearer with the cycles of Somerset's seasons. Last year, they opened a first showroom on Beak Street, Soho, but the brand's lifeblood remains the duo's childhood home county. Read on to discover Cameron's tips for exploring Somerset, from its spring blooms to its apple harvest.
A perfumer's guide to Somerset, England
When's the best time to visit Somerset?
Late summer, just before the harvest.
Any towns we should circle on our map?
Definitely Wiveliscombe, which is home to so many artists now. It has a couple of lovely pubs, and a little town square that hosts events throughout the year.
What is the county's defining smell?
Apples before the harvest.
The Newt, left, and the Somerset estate's Hadspen House
Where should we stay?
The Newt. It has been pioneering in its development of the surrounding gardens and landscape, and the food offered there is simply delicious.
Where's the best-smelling coffee in the county?
Brazier Coffee Roasters - you can smell the beans from a mile away.
Where should we go for breakfast?
The smoked trout bagel served at the White Post Café is particularly good. Or, if you're vegetarian, try the sweet potato fritters.
Somewhere for an al fresco lunch?
It's just over the border, in Devon, but The Lost Kitchen is wonderful.
The Quantocks, left, and White Post Café
A pub with a brilliant beer garden?
Try the White Horse Inn in Bradford on Tone. For dinner indoors, we'd say Woods in Dulverton (again, it's Devon, but we're claiming it as our own).
Somewhere to catch sight of spring blooms?
If you're in the market, Triscombe Nurseries, at the foot of the Quantocks.
Somewhere for a hike?
Head to the Quantocks and retrace the footsteps of a famous poet along The Coleridge Way.
Any shops we can pick up a picnic from?
For the best homemade pies in the county, head straight to Wellington Cheese and Wine Shop. Homity, pork, apple - they have the lot. The homemade chocolates are also delicious.
Hauser & Wirth | Photo credit: Lois GoBe / Shutterstock
Where do you head when you're seeking inspiration?
To Hauser & Wirth in Bruton. They've brought contemporary art to the Somerset landscape, and the garden designed by Piet Oudolf is remarkable.
Any other gardens you'd recommend?
Forde Abbey. It's beautiful - we filmed our Spring 21 campaign in the glass house.
What should we do on a rainy day?
Explore Silver Street Antiques in Taunton - you can pick up an incredible bargain in there. Don't be put off by the unassuming frontage.
Something to enliven our senses?
Try some wild swimming near Cow Castle on Exmoor.
Is there a secret, only-known-to-locals spot you could share with us?
Sadly, we've signed the Somerset Secrets Act and we can't share…
A book to enjoy while exploring the county?
Jane Austen's Persuasion is a classic, incredibly romantic West Country novel, or, for something contemporary, you can never go wrong with Tessa Hadley. Her 2015 novel The Past is set in an old house deep in the Somerset countryside. For nature lovers, Robert Macfarlane's Holloway is a must-read - there are many ancient holloways in Somerset, including along The Coleridge Way.
What would be a good souvenir to take home?
A bottle or two (or three!) of cider from Sheppy's Cider.
Main photo credit: Aloha Bonser Shaw