Westland Gardens is hosting a sneak peek this Saturday with music and Wild Acre beer. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
Floral cart filled with succulents. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
Take home a snip of your favorite herbs from the trimming garden. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
Vertical trough gardens grow Westland peppers and tomatoes. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
Colorful planting materials. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
Westland Garden's hanging baskets and tropicals. (Photo by Courtney Dabney).
The dusty stretch of what is now known as Camp Bowie West feels like a time capsule. What used to be a busy thoroughfare, when it was known as Highway 80, withered with the construction of Interstate 20, which bypassed this forgotten patch of Fort Worth in the mid 1970s.
Just take a look at the time-worn and faded signage at local legend Margie’s Italian Garden to appreciate the area’s slow decline. Margie’s has been serving Italian food here since it opened in 1953. And, although Grissom’s Fine Jewelers also still calls the area home, the span which is known as Westland is now mostly an automotive and warehouse district, dotted with a few dive bars.
But with high-end housing developments located very nearby, the area is due for a makeover. Montserrat and its next phase Montrachet are neighbors, along with the new construction of La Ventana. And the burgeoning Walsh Ranch is only a five minute drive away.
That got the investors like Bourke Harvey, his brother Holman Harvey and Brendan Bennett thinking. The Westland location is ideal to serve these growing communities. They formed Westland Texas Investments and their first project was to convert the former Wilson’s Nursery into an updated version called Westland Gardens.
The new Westland Gardens will debut this Saturday, June 27 with music and beer provided by Wild Acre Brewing, whose owner John Pritchett will be on hand as well.
“Our vision is to add useful real estate and businesses to the area,” Bourke Harvey says. “We are also mulling over some possible sports related ideas and or hotel sites to bring the Westland back to life.”
The developers plan to host regular farmers markets at Westland Gardens. “We’re calling them Wednesdays at Westland, and it will be much more than just fresh produce. We’ll have fresh eggs, local wares and furnishings, and of course plants and landscape materials,” Harvey tells PaperCity Fort Worth.
Westland has colorful selections of bedding and hanging plants. But Harvey is most excited about its signature varieties of peppers and tomatoes, grown from award-winning, organic seeds. These “Westland tomatoes and peppers” are special in his estimation. As he led me on a tour through the grounds, displaying the intricacies of his trough and vertical growing methods, his excitement was contagious.
Also on site, you’ll find Harvey’s other passion project ― his Legendary Trees line the lefthand fence. The saplings come from some of the South’s most famous trees. The specimens are grown from seeds of renowned trees including the Texas A&M Century Oak and the New Braunfels Church Oak. Having one of these trees, with its legendary lineage, is kind of like having a descendant of the LBJ’s Beagles as a pet. They are trees that tell a story.
The wives of these Westland Texas Investment partners have had a hand in the design of the space and will give direction to the weekly farmers markets as well. Bourke’s wife Stephanie has an eye for design and hospitality. The couple owns local custard shop Curly’s Custard, as well as several Jason’s Deli locations. They also have a stake in the casual dining Roger’s Roundhouse restaurant.
Holman’s wife Laurie Harvey has her own home staging business called Refine, where she re-envisions and designs spaces for clients. And Brendan Bennett’s wife Joanna is co-owner of the local Fort Worth boutique You Are Here.
“It did need a major facelift, since the space was really just utilitarian, before we got it,” Joanna Bennett tells PaperCity. “We wanted to make it a place you’d want to come and visit.”
Bennett notes that the group is adding comfortable touches in the coming weeks with the installation of fans, misters and picnic table seating as well. “Where Westland Gardens is situated, it’s convenient for people to swing by on their way home and pick up something for their windowsill, to lift their spirits,” she says. “And once we get on people’s radar, I think the herb cutting garden will be very popular.”
“Each of us have local family-owned businesses and we want Westland to be the same,” Bourke Harvey says. Westland Gardens will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm.