My Garden’s White Lily

 Arguably, there’s no better gardening companion than a dog.

My husband says he can find me in the garden by which way the Westie’s nose is pointing.

One reason I have a West Highland white terrier is because she makes a good photo prop. Her black nose and eyes show well against her white fur.

Lily—named after a white flower—knows when she’s working, and takes it seriously. Her portfolio includes both my books and an article in Better Homes & Gardens.

A photographer once told me he prefers to shoot tan dogs because white can be problematical. I see his point, but nothing stands out so well as white.

 The West Highland white terrier is the white version of the cairn terrier, which gets its name from Scottish rock piles (cairns).  Cairn terriers were used to rid rock piles of rodents, so it goes against Lily’s nature to sit and stay. She prefers to be hunting small critters. I’ve used rocks throughout the garden, which is steep in places, to retain soil and line pathways. Lizards hide among the rocks, and I’ve had to train Lily not to scrabble after them, causing terraces to collapse. 

Westies are playful dogs, and apart from a mouse in the woodpile, like nothing better than a small visitor with a ball.

As her schedule allows, Lily vacations at the Cambria Shores Inn. Located on the coast of central California, this enlightened establishment welcomes canines. More importantly (at least as far as I’m concerned), it has a wonderful succulent garden.

Mickey, our Shih-tsu, is less photogenic—his eyes are hard to see—but he has his moments.

About Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin gardens on "an inhospitable half acre" in Escondido, CA, near San Diego. She is an award-winning photojournalist and artist with hundreds of articles and columns to her credit. Debra's books are Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified. www.debraleebaldwin.com.

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16 Responses to My Garden’s White Lily

  1. Gatsbys Gardens March 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    I am enchanted because we now have our third Westie, Reggie and each of our Westies are always like another child in our household.

    Obviously, our real children are most dear but my son once asked me when he returned from college and saw all the little Westie articles around the house if we were into Westie Worship!

    They don’t mind being worshipped. Lily, in fact, expects it. — Debra

  2. Karin/Southern Meadows March 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Oh I love that photograph of the dogs sitting at the table! Do they enjoy croissants for breakfast? I agree that dogs make the best gardening companions, after husbands who dig holes. My two puppies are still being trained in the ways of gardening but they are still in training.

    Hi, Karin — They love croissants, but adore sausages. LOL about the husband who digs holes! — Debra

  3. Darla March 12, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Now you are making me want a Westie..she does indeed compliment here surroundings…nice sedum garden….

    Hi, Darla — Thank you! Westies are the right size for a dog. They’re sturdy dogs, large enough to not be mistaken for rodents, and small enough to be portable. — Debra

  4. Donna March 12, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Lily is great at posing dramatically…terriers have such personalities..

    Hi, Donna. Lily does stare intently, hoping to be told she can go (instead of having to sit and stay). — Debra

  5. Tanya Goldsmith March 12, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Love your photos. I too have a shih tzu named Mickey! He is just over a year old and a bundle of trouble and FUN! He likes to swim in the pond with my ducks!

    Hi, Tanya — You have a Mickey, too?! Our nickname for him is “The Mouse.” I’m astonished that yours swims. Shih tzus have such short snouts, it’s a wonder that yours can keep his above water. And our Mickey is really heavy for his size. I suspect he’d sink like a stone. — Debra

  6. Lisa at Greenbow March 12, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    You have cute little dogs. I have a big white dog. She really shows up in the garden. She hates to have her picture taken. She patrols the garden and keeps out any wandering cats, squirrels etc. The moles even respect her. It is like someone took a rototiller through the garden when she gets after a mole. She plain forgets that she isn’t supposed to be in the flower beds. UGH…

    Hi, Lisa — Lily hunts constantly but has never caught anything. It’s a joke with us that she’s always looking in the wrong direction. A mole would have to jump in front of her and pass out. I could use a good gopher catcher, but what I need is a cat…or maybe a gopher snake. No one needs a dog that digs up flower beds! — Debra

  7. Wendy at Muck About March 12, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    There is no happier animal in the world than a dog with an owner who gardens. I’d say you have two lucky animals there…

    Hi, Wendy — Beautifully said! You’ve made my day. — Debra

  8. Dawn March 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Love the photos of your Lily. We have 2 huge dogs who keep the cats out out of the garden, including the bobcats…yes really! We also have a Pom/Papillon mix who likes to chase (and munch on, yuk) the lizards, which we discourage, since the lizzies eat a lot of bugs. Having said that, we have so many lizards, you do have to watch where your foot falls because they love to sun and snooze themselves on the paving stones.

    Hi, Dawn — You must have one quick little dog. Lizards don’t exactly sit around, waiting to be eaten (eew). — Debra

  9. Sheila Schultz March 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    I have a German Shepherd named Cori that is the biggest goof…ever. Does she photograph well? Not usually, even though she is beautiful. Does she guard the front yard when I’m working my garden? Oh Yeah!!! Does she make my heart sing? Without a doubt.
    Dogs in our gardens make the world better.

    Hi, Sheila — I suspect Cori is a lot smarter than Lily. German shepherds are so majestic and intelligent. I’d have one in a heartbeat if I had room for one. — Debra

  10. Alison March 13, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Great pics of your Westies helping you garden. My son and DIL have two Westies, including a girl named Lily and a boy named Stewart.

    Another Lily! I’ll bet their pair is adorable. One thing about Westies is that they all look alike. Lily is my second, and although she resembles her predecessor, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Gertie (may she rest in peace) was more worshipful toward me. Her attitude was: Ask not what your Pack Leader can do for you, ask what you can do for your Pack Leader. Lily’s is the opposite. We’re continually battling wills. Gertie didn’t need to be trained, Lily had to be (and resented every minute of it). But she’s a great little dog. Finally! (ha). — Debra

  11. Bren March 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Friends and succulents : two of my most favorite in any garden. Great share Debra – I love the art of gardening in your world!

    Thanks, Bren! You of all people would understand the importance of a pet that loves to hang out with you in the garden AND is photogenic. — Debra

  12. Mr. McGregor's Daughter March 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I have to agree, white dogs with dark eyes & black noses are very photogenic. I can’t tell you how many pictures of took of my late, lamented white Borzoi in the garden. I find all black dogs are the hardest to photograph. Their eyes and other details tend to get lost in the blackness. Tan dogs would clash with my garden color scheme. ;^)

    Ha! Yes, it would have to be the right shade of tan, wouldn’t it? My son’s black pug puppy, though adorable, is like photographing a silhouette. If he’s not rolling his eyes, they disappear. — Debra

  13. Dirty Girl Gardening March 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Adorable little dogs!

  14. Kaveh March 22, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I knew that garden looked familiar. My friend Gabe designed the gardens at Cambria Shores Inn with the owners son (who owns a succulent nursery).

  15. Dixie March 26, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    I’m more of a cat person, but that is a cute dog. :)

  16. Katie E-P April 5, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Debra-I love love love this blog! I love it! (Sorry-blog POST!) Your dog is the cutest, and I love it that she’s so serious about working!

    Thank you, Katie! She’s cute, but don’t let that fool you. Recently, I visited a garden inhabited by two mellow Westies, which mine isn’t. Not fair! Lily was difficult to train, being a lot more focused on herself than on her pack leader. All dogs are different, even if the same breed.