Bill Weishaar Sr. of Baxter Gardens of Chesterfield and Charles Deutsch of The Gatesworth

Tim Parker

Anyone can say they pay attention to detail, but The Gatesworth has taken that concept to a whole new level when it comes to the community’s outdoor spaces. Walking through the grounds, one finds that each garden is more beautiful than the last—but it all makes sense after talking to co-owner Charles Deutsch, who explains that the positioning of each tree was determined only after checking the view from each apartment’s balcony.

“It works because it’s supported by forethought,” Deutsch says. “The landscape was planned and integrated into the design, and was laid out in conjunction with the architectural and interior plans. It definitely wasn’t an afterthought.” He and Bill Weishaar Sr. of Baxter Gardens of Chesterfield have worked together for more than 40 years, always making improvements to The Gatesworth’s grounds. The design philosophy is simple, Deutsch says: “We see landscaping as an integral part of any living environment. The outdoors are just as integral as the functionality of the interior of one’s home. Every plant is a thing of beauty, and the fact that we’re empowered to combine these creations into an exquisite environment is soothing for the soul.”

Both the attractiveness and function of the outdoor environment make an impact on the atmosphere. The first courtyard, built when the community originally opened in 1988, is centered around a wooden lattice gazebo. The tranquil space not only provides a place to sit, but also a natural landscaped environment in which to socialize. The interconnected walkways mean that every section of the gardens is accessible from a nearby entrance, and unique features—including a putting green, as well as a greenhouse for resident use— offer ample reasons to enjoy the outdoors. “It creates a feeling of home, because the residents have use of the grounds as if it was their own backyard,” Weishaar notes.

A second courtyard, created with an expansion in 2000, is connected to the first by a meandering walkway. A lake lined with boulders that were unearthed during construction provides a natural setting, and a variety of plants including water lilies, arrowhead lilies, cattails, dwarf grasses, azaleas and dogwoods was chosen to provide color no matter the season. Off this courtyard, a resident manages his own personal garden, which sometimes features vegetables and other times flowers, Weishaar says. In fact, throughout the gardens, formally planned features are supplemented with creative sculptures and potted plants belonging to residents.

A third courtyard plays host to an outdoor party pavilion, with features including a vaulted ceiling that emulates a World’s Fair rotunda, ceiling fans, a fire pit, a built-in bar, catering support facilities and space for up to 60 guests, Deutsch notes. He calls it a ‘purposeful destination space,’ which both anchors the courtyard and provides utility. It overlooks a stately reflecting pool surrounded by black-eyed Susans, Missouri primrose, purple salvia, roses and azaleas. “If you look at the Japanese maples in the sunlight, they almost look iridescent,” Weishaar says.

And the outdoor experience doesn’t have to end when residents go back inside, Deutsch adds. “The interior is designed to take maximum opportunity of the outdoors, as well.” Every one of the 298 independent living apartments has a balcony or patio. Likewise, the building’s central atrium features an expansive space with keyed arches and sunlight filtering in through skylights. These details provide a sense of the outdoors, even on days when inclement weather might prevent some seniors from going outside. “We empower people by making the entire environment accessible, inside and outside,” Deutsch says. From the tranquil gazebo to the natural lake and the stately party pavilion, diverse options are available throughout the grounds. “It makes the impossible possible with opportunities for rich, life-enhancing experiences.”

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