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Late Hampstead horticulturalist remembered for kindness and generosity

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 March 2015

Jose Dent. Picture: Charlie Hopkinson/Gardens Illustrated.

Jose Dent. Picture: Charlie Hopkinson/Gardens Illustrated.

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A popular Hampstead horticulturalist has been remembered for her generosity and kindness.

Former Hampstead Horticultural Society chairman Jose Dent passed away recently at the age of 84.

The mother-of-three, who lived with her husband David in Frognal Gardens, was celebrated for her work in setting up the Friends of The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens group.

Hampstead resident Ruth Gorb, a friend of 50 years, said: “She thought of other people all the time, she was very generous and kind and if anyone was in trouble she was there.

“Jose was very intelligent, very forthright, she knew exactly what she thought and despite her physical difficulties, she had enormous mental and emotional energy.

“She worked hard at what she did yet she had time for everybody. She was also a great beauty when she was young and a great gardener throughout her life, she loved plants and she went all over the country looking at gardens and judging them.”

Mrs Dent was born in Cricklewood in 1930 to Russian and Polish émigré parents.

She was evacuated to the countryside during the war, where she discovered her love for nature and wildlife.

As an adult, she began work on a fashion magazine called Shopping before becoming a television director in 1953, working on a national fashion magazine programme.

She met her husband David Dent, a company director, around this time and the couple went on to have three children.

They moved to Lower Terrace, in Hampstead, from their first home in Regent’s Park in 1963 before settling for good in Frognal Gardens.

Having moved to Hampstead, Mrs Dent joined Hampstead Horticultural Society and rose to chairman eventually.

She also worked as a volunteer for Citizens Advice and as a magistrate at Highgate Magistrates’ Court.

One of her proudest achievements was setting up the Friends of The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens group after meeting Michael Avishai, one of the founders of the gardens.

In Hampstead, Mrs Dent was a familiar figure racing around on her mobility scooter.

“She had this buggy and she was an absolute menace,” said Ms Gorb. “She’d go flying around on it. She would go onto Hampstead Heath and across to Gospel Oak to see friends on it.

“She said it was her great liberation as she hadn’t been able to walk because of arthritis.”

Mrs Dent is survived by her husband, three children and five grandchildren.

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