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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

October, 2008 - Volume III, No. 10

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage and help build an environmental culture while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility for all.

Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.


There have been very few years since the founding of the Botanical Garden in which we have seen water extend to the Obraje river.  In this unusually wet September, a torrent has at times gone from one side to the other of the dam of the reservoir Las Colonias making a resounding and impressive waterfall, tumultuously plunging into the canyon.  All this water has no doubt been the cause of the exceptional blooming in the reserve. Now that the rains have diminished in intensity, it’s the ideal time for a stroll, especially in the morning, to admire the profusion and variety of wild flowers all around. Highly recommended….

water over the dam



... continues with much success to show reptiles and amphibians: snakes, lizards, turtles and other amazing creatures – live examples of our region, Mexico and the world.  More than 3,500 people from San Miguel and other places, including many students, have visited this show of Mexican biodiversity during the month of September which is in the Boveda on the side of the Plaza of Four Winds. Most of the animals are part of the Herpetarium of San Luis de La Paz headed by Raul Hernandez Arciga, biologist and herpetologist from the National Polytechnical Institute.  Each week the exhibit introduces new species, some exotic, and offers daily guided explanations. The EXPO is open until the end of October. Don’t miss it!!



Open every day from 10:00a.m. to 7:00p.m.
Workshops on prevention of accidents and first aid with reptiles: Saturdays and Sundays 11:30am and 5:30pm

Cost: 10 pesos. Members with cards and children under 5 are free.



This newly renovated space at the Garden will serve many purposes.  As in the past, the all night vigil in July for the Fiesta de la Santa Cruz will continue to be held there. As well, throughout the year, it will be a space for other ceremonies, conferences, workshops, meetings, presentations, and special exhibits (such as the Expo Reptiles currently showing). The Boveda can seat 80 people and has a bathroom, kitchen and storage area. In addition to the Garden’s organized activities, the Boveda will be available for rental which not only provides a service to the community but represents a way to fund our conservation project.  For more information, contact Olivia Ledon, our Public Relations director at




And speaking of the Boveda..a timely donation will allow us to equip the inside of this multi-use space to provide better service.  The San Miguel Community Foundation has given us $5,000US to be used for the purchase of chairs, tables, curtains, kitchen equipment, shelving and a projector for presentations.  We would like to offer a sincere thank you to SMCF and to Maru Llano who assisted in getting this important support for El Charco.


The Flowering Wetland, October 22nd, 9:30a.m

In no other part of El Charco is there so much floral color, such an abundance of cosmos and sunflowers, forming swathes of pink and yellow.  But a wetland, beloved by naturalists -  Thoreau sad he’d rather have a marsh for a garden – is an “extreme” environment. Water is in excess of what most plants need. So there are specialists. And we will see these. Over the wet meadow (come with the right shoes), while we are looking at the ground, swallows will skim and hover overhead; maybe a crested caracara will drift by.  This walk will start at the Visitor's Centre and last about one hour. Our guide will be Walter L. Meagher, author with Wayne Colony of Wild and Wonderful: Nature up Close in El Charco (book available at the Garden’s shop), which has great coverage of the wetland area in both text and photos. Members pay 70 pesos, non-members 100 pesos. Please reserve a space at





Thanks to the initiative and support of Timoteo Wachter, reknowned landscape architect of San Miguel, the Botanical Garden will soon have a beautiful fountain near the reception area. The artistic and natural design is formed by rocks from the reserve and succulents from the botanical collection of the garden. 



The work of delicately placing these large rocks and the plants is being carried out by Antonio Herrera and his team.  The water, pumped by solar energy, will flow over the rocks into a small pool inhabited by native plants and fish.  A wonderful refreshing gift for El Charco.



Work began in September to build a new botanical exhibit in El Charco dedicated to a genus of cacti that is most representative of Mexican flora.  The genus Opuntia which has over 80 species and 100 varieties is commonly known as nopal. This new garden on the side of the Conservatory, will have species from El Charco, the region of San Miguel, and from all over the country and will take several months to complete.  The collection and identification of the species was made posible thanks to the researchers of the Institute of Biology of UNAM headed by Dr. Lia Sheimbar. Financing for the project is possible due to a generous donation by the recently deceased Robyn Flintoff and her husband, George Michelson. A most sincere thank you.



The Botanical Garden has initiated a program with this prestigious Institute to identify and create an inventory of the diverse families of insects inside the reserve of El Charco. The team consisting of biologists Dr. Alejandro Córdoba, Jesús Jiménez and Jorge Canales, are currently studying the identification and diversity of dragonflies in El Charco as well as in our forest reserve in Los Picachos. The researchers are also evaluating the possibility of putting camp sites in these areas.   dragonfly\


Mario Mendoza, Technical Director of El Charco del Ingenio, represented the Garden during the last week of September at this annual reunion which took place this year in Acapulco, Guerrero. As an official member of this organization which comprises more than 50 botanical gardens throughout the country, our organization presented a paper on our programs, activities concerning conservation, restoration and rescue of endangered plants and those on the point of extinction, as well as the species of Mexican plants we manage at the Garden.



Cesar and Holly



If you haven’t already done so, we recommend visiting our new internet site which has updated and extensive information about all aspects of our project:  creating the garden, the botanical collection, biodiversity, the historical site, activities, publications, how to contribute, and much more.  It is also now possible to donate online and there are downloadable forms for becoming a member, renewing membership and volunteering.  We want to thank Holly Yasui with all our heart for her patience and creative force as our webmaster in helping launch this new, beautiful, informative site.


Hermes Arroyo, originally from San Miguel, worked in El Charco during the crucial years of 1998 to 2008. During this time he created a large body of work of “Natural Art” using diverse materials – rocks, stones, earth, plants, fibers, dried plants – in an ingenious and creative manner.  Hermes contributed in a substantial way to creating the image and style of the Garden which crystallized in the 2004 exhibit about Suchil presented by our organization at Bellas Artes for which Hermes was curator and author.   He is also an outstanding sculptor, wood carver, mask maker and creator of traditional mojigangas, and has taught these skills to several generations. In El Charco he has been in charge of the summer courses for local children and youth and has been responsible for the signage in Parque Landeta, the store, and throughout the reserve. Most recently he prepared the installation of the Expo Reptiles and is working on some new projects for the Garden including the upcoming Day of the Dead altar for November 1, 2.


hermes arroyo
photo with mojigangas: Jesús Ibarra

Guided Tours in English

Tuesdays at 10:00a.m. sharp; duration 2 hours. A hat, water and good walking shoes are recommended. 50 pesos for members and 80 pesos for non-members. Private tours are also available for 150 pesos per person (minimum 5 persons). Reservations are not necessary.


Sábado 11 de octubre 10am
Domingo 12 de octubre 10am

This relaxing steam bath is a ritual of healing and purification and is available every month for both men and women. Bring bathing suits and towels. It takes place in the ruins of an old hacienda, under the moonlight, across the dam from El Charco’s reception area.

The mixture of heat, humidity and scented plants and herbs is a purifying experience for mind and spirit. Its benefits are many: it activates blood circulation, increases natural body defenses, eliminates odors, relaxes muscles, helps keep the nervous system in good shape, stimulates breathing and is excellent for weight loss.

250 pesos, space is limited so please call for reservations or information 154 88 38, 154 4715, cell 01 443 10 3 3019 or in El Charco’s main office.


temazcal exterior

temazcal interior

Tuesday, October 14th at sunset

luna llena


We invite everyone to this open celebration that has been taking place for many years during the full moon cycle at the Four Winds Plaza in the Botanical Garden.

It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. We recommend bringing a coat and a musical instrument if you wish.

Admission is 30 pesos, free for members.


El Charco Gift Shop

Have you visited the new gift shop at El Charco? We recommend that you stop by to see a series of new products at the Botanical Garden. And don't miss the juice bar and cafeteria next to the Visitors Center of the Botanical Garden.


You can make a difference

And you can make a difference with your contribution - volunteer or donate. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at

E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at


Notwithstanding the territorial character of the Botanical Garden’s work, circumscribed by its property and areas under its custody, our organization cannot  be indifferent to what is happening to the environment, especially if it implies the destruction of elements that form the natural and cultural heritage of San Miguel.  In recent years, a large part of this rich heritage has been altered by a poorly thought out and poorly executed urban development.

This is the case of Las Cachinches gulley, a channel through which most of the city’s rivers converge, including that of Obraje which is a continuation of the extensive biological corredor of El Charco which begins in the tributaries of Los Picachos and empties into the reservoir Ignacio Allende.

Unfortunately, the construction of a subsidiary of Walmart was authorized on the marsh and natural flood plains of Los Cachinches. The work has required the filling in of the marsh and the consequent strangulation of the river bed. 
Besides depriving the city of an area of undoubted ecological and recreational potential, the deformation of the natural channel can provoke unpredictable situations if the patterns of rain of the last decades continue.  We just have to remember the avalanche of water that took place 10 years ago in October 1998 which provoked the sudden flooding of both Obraje and Las Cachinches with disasterous consequences for the population. 

What will happen to the flow of the river now deprived of its natural flood zone in the probable event that this phenomenon occurs again? We believe the municipal authorities owe an explanation to the citizens of this town.


Where is all the water from the Obraje river alone going to go?

overflowing dam



“Botanical Gardens are not just places for conserving and displaying plants.  At the dawn of the new millennium, they are main actors in the defense and protection of the planet’s biodiversity, with a growing focus on the regional – thinking globally and acting locally.  And they are also builders of a new environmental culture for the societies that inhabit the Earth.” 




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