I have only just heard the story of The Vegetable Sermon – a tradition stretching back nearly three centuries. It all goes back to a gardener called Thomas Fairchild, from Hoxton, East London. He is credited with creating the first hybrid - in 1717 he took the pollen from a Carnation and brushed it onto a Sweet William in his nursery. The resulting flower [which did not produce seeds] became known as Fairchild’s Mule.
But Thomas was a God-fearing man, and concerned that it might appear that he was seeking to out-do the Creator by making his own flowers.
So when he died in 1729, it was his wish to be buried in the Poor’s Ground of St Leonard’s Church in the Hackney Rd and he bequeathed twenty-five pounds to the church for the endowment of an annual Whitsun sermon.
The sermon was to be on either the wonderful works of God or the certainty of the creation. This annual event became known as the “Vegetable Sermon” and continued in Shoreditch until 1981 when, under the auspices of the Worshipful Society of Gardeners, it transferred to St Giles, Cripplegate.
This year the tradition is to be revived [admittedly 3 days after Pentecost – better late than never, I suppose] This is billed as a lecture rather than a sermon. I wonder what Dr Sheldrake will say
Some suggestions for hymns at a vegetable service…
Let there be peas on earth
We will salsify
Sprout for joy and sing
Beauty for broccoli
Lettuce draw near
These are the days of the Endive
Enough of this frivolity – it is Pentecost Sunday and that is far more exciting than a sermon about vegetables! Have a glorious day