Friday 24 May 2019

Catwalk to canines: Fashion designer creates dog-friendly garden that's a hit with rescue pets

Yappy days: Gráinne Walsh with Rudy, a white boxer (10); Muggins, a Yorkshire cross (10); Birdie, a four-year-old pitbull; Buzz, an Amstaff (5); and Millie, an 11-year-old Weimaraner, at the Grey Area Studio in Chapelizod, Dublin. PHOTO: FRANK McGRATH
Yappy days: Gráinne Walsh with Rudy, a white boxer (10); Muggins, a Yorkshire cross (10); Birdie, a four-year-old pitbull; Buzz, an Amstaff (5); and Millie, an 11-year-old Weimaraner, at the Grey Area Studio in Chapelizod, Dublin. PHOTO: FRANK McGRATH
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

You might expect a fashion designer to be all about colour, lines and shapes when it comes to planning a garden. But for Gráinne Walsh there's so much more involved.

Her entry in RTÉ's 'Super Garden' competition was inspired by her beloved dogs.

Rudy, her white boxer, Birdie, a pitbull, and Muggins, a Yorkshire cross, are all rescues she found abandoned in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Most days, you'll find Gráinne with an extended gang of pets including Millie, her sister's Weimaraner, and Buzz, an Amstaff rescue.

"People always said to me 'how can you have such a nice garden when you have dogs', but dogs don't have to dig it up and make a mess if you put in interesting areas and give them stuff to stimulate them in the garden," said Gráinne whose green-fingered hobby started after moving to Chapelizod where her garden backs on to the Phoenix Park.

Sadly Gráinne's new hobby was cut short when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"I stopped about three years ago because I couldn't physically garden any more with the pain," said Gráinne.

"I developed lymphedema in my left arm and gardening is one of the things you are absolutely told not to do because of the chances of getting a scratch and an infection."

After talking to a neighbour who was in the competition last year, Gráinne entered and was chosen as one of the five Super Garden finalists.

The winner will get a show garden at the Bloom event in Dublin this summer.

Back working with the soil again, Gráinne said "gardening has made me realise so much more is possible".

Gráinne acknowledged there are overlaps between gardening, fashion and her work in her Grey Area Studio where she now builds sets for fashion shoots and rents out the space. She wants her garden to highlight how "dogs need space, exercise and stimulation".

"I've found so many dogs dumped in the Phoenix Park which I try to re-home," Gráinne said.

Irish Independent

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