The Cinema Museum, London

‘Blanche Sweet’ Planting

January 2010 · History

Through Brooklyn film historian Martin Sopocy, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and horticultural societies, we arranged a planting of the lilac variety ‘Blanche Sweet’ in Kennington Park, London, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of silent film star Blanche Sweet (1896-1986), who began her long acting career aged 13 in D.W. Griffith’s early films. The planting, on 29th October 1995, was attended by the Mayor of Lambeth, and was performed by 91-year-old Joan Morgan (1905-2004), Britain’s then oldest silent film actress (seen with Martin Humphries, below, top right). Joan herself began in films at the age of eight in her director father Sidney Morgan’s productions, made in the seaside studios at Bungalow Town, Shoreham, along the coast from Brighton, Sussex.

Regrettably the copper plate with information about the lilac was stolen within weeks of the planting, but the lilac (pictured in September 2007) can be seen in the Rose Garden, Kennington Park. It blossoms with a pale blue flower, the colour of Blanche Sweet’s eyes.