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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

October, 2009 - Volume IV, 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.

Wildflower Identification Walk - Friday, October 9

Botanical Illustration classes - starting in November

TEMASCAL - Saturday October 10 and Sunday October 11

Full Moon Ceremony - Sunday, October 4

Yoga at El Charco - Mondays and Wednesdays

Bird Walks - First and Third Wednesday of the month

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays


In contrast to the current municipal government administration’s refusal to revoke the permit for this development next to the preservation zone of El Charco del Ingenio, various sectors of society have expressed their support to El Charco’s request to stop what will be a serious and irreversible environmental and visual disaster on this site.

The authorization to build was given by the municipal government this past March to the company, “Casas San Miguelito”, to build a condo complex of 93 houses on 5 hectares. Most of “El Deseo” (3.5 hectares) is in the Ecological Preservation Zone declared by the City in 2005.  The other 1.5 hectares are on land legislated low density (H-0) on which this company intends to put 63 houses – obviously a violation of this zoning law.

In the last few days, hundreds of letters have been sent to the Mayor, the builders and the press by citizens, residents and civil organizations of San Miguel and we continue to get thousands of signatures on a petition requesting the revocation of this permit.  Amongst all the support, the letter to the Mayor by 30 stewards of the communities that hold the Festival of the Santa Cruz in El Charco each July stands out.  In this letter they express their rejection of this development, not only for the environmental impact it will have but also for its affect on a site of ceremonial, communal and historical value for San Miguel.

In spite of the general rejection of this project and with the support of the administration,
“Casas San Miguelito”, has quickly started work on the site and their representatives have declared to the media that they will finish their project despite the protests and challenges on the part of the public.

el deseo construction

Nevertheless, given the negative impact on the preservation zone and the shortage of drinkable water in this area, the Mayor-Elect, Lucy Nuñez has publicly declared that upon entering office on October 10th, she will ask city council to revoke the permit.

Whose “deseo” (wish) will become reality?

2009 - 2010


no dogs   The Board of the Charco del Ingenio has decided to prohibit entrance to dogs starting November 1st, 2009, due to the growing number of serious incidents and the difficulty in managing them. This rule will apply to all areas of El Charco del Ingenio but not to Parque Landeta where owners can let their dogs loose, with the exception of the north and south banks of the presa where waterfowl can be injured. Seeing eye dogs will be exempt.

After 20 years of protection, the reserve has acquired an exceptionally rich biodiversity representing numerous species and populations of flora and fauna, many of which are endangered or on the point of extinction and their conservation is one of our organization’s top priorities.  For this fundamental reason, combined with the necessity to protect visitor’s areas and the exhibition of the Garden’s plants, we imposed rules for the use of short leashes and restricted areas for dogs.  Unfortunately, these rules are often broken by people who scoff at or defy our staff, descending into the canyon and wetlands with their dogs running loose. They don’t realize that their dogs, by their simple presence, inhibit the establishment and reproduction of the wildlife, besides being a direct threat. It is common for dogs to kill waterfowl and mammals without their owners even knowing.

Anas Crecca

We know that wild dogs are also destructive but, over the last few years, we have been monitoring them and our program of humane capture and release has greatly diminished their numbers inside the reserve.

We realize that this decision by the Board may be disagreeable to some members and users, especially those living near the Botanical Garden, but we ask everyone’s understanding and cooperation since we strongly believe the reasons given above justify this decision.



Botanical Illustration is the place where art and science unite with beautiful results.

botanical illustration   El Charco del Ingenio has partnered with the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate Program to launch a new program at El Charco. The program is designed to teach a comprehensive series of classes in botanical illustration, offering participants the drawing and painting skills required to render accurate and useful depictions of the plant world with a focus on detail, and the artistic techniques to create beautiful botanical compositions. This program is for the dedicated illustrator, as well as the devoted amateur. Students will receive credit towards the Certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration from the Denver Botanic Gardens. The course offerings for the initial launch year include:

Introduction to Botanical Illustration (Nov. 2009)
Botanical Sketching: Gaining Perspective (Nov. 2009)
Botanical Illustration in Colored Pencil (March 2010)
Botany for Illustrators, Gardeners, & Amateur Botanists (March 2010)
Succulent! Capturing Cacti in Colored Pencil (March 2010)
Botanical Illustration in Watercolor (July 2010)
Botanical Landscapes (July 2010)
Composing Compelling Artwork (Sept. 2010)
Flower Portraits in Pencil and Color (Sept. 2010)
Botanical Illustration:  Focus on Form (Dec. 2010)
Hand-made Journals & Hand Lettering (Dec. 2010)

The Denver Botanic Garden in Colorado started offering classes in Botanical Art and Illustration in 1980 and the certificate program was established in 1990. This recognition is obtainable at only a few locations worldwide. The curriculum in Denver includes nearly 100 courses for students of all ages and art experience and they have 500 active students.

Courses will be taught in the Boveda at El Charco,  and generally run for five to seven half days. The cost is $235US for a 5-day, 15 hour class for a member of El Charco and $270US for a non-member (3100 and 3600 pesos respectively).  Classes are limited to 15 people. For more information or to register for a class, contact Naomi Zerriffi

Anyone who would like to sponsor a Mexican student for the week, please contact



El Charco was chosen by the General Direction of Educational Television (DGTVE – Direccion General de Television Educativa) on the part of the Federal Secretary of Public Education to be part of a video series called Actions in the Environment.  During these past days, a highly professional production team took videos of various parts of our Botanical Garden. They also interviewed our Director, Mario Hernandez, as well as other members of our staff and people with knowledge of the evolution and development of the Botanical Garden.  The series will be shown next year by the Educational Television Satellite Network (Edusat) on about 15 national channels and others in Latin America.  We can’t wait to see it!


Garden Lecture Series - October 9, 10 a.m.

Richard Cretcher, author of the book, "Flores Silvestres, a pocket guide to the wildflowers of San Miguel", will be offering a walk in El Charco del Ingenio this month to identify the multitude of gorgeous flowers blooming at this time of year.  Fen Taylor will also assist in guiding this walk. The date is October 9th starting at 10a.m.  Cost is 70 pesos for members and 100 for non-members of El Charco. This is a popular activity so please reserve a space early by emailing

flowers by Alexis

photos by Alexis White / mexicanstudio

El Charco’s President visits the Royal Botanical Garden in Canada

In September, Cesar Arias, President of our Association, visited this Botanical Garden, one of the most prestigious in Canada and in the world due to its extraordinary collection of plants and diverse and well preserved gardens and extensive natural areas. RBG is in Hamilton on Lake Ontario, not far from Toronto, in an industrial zone (steel mills) and densely populated urban area where ecosystems have been severely altered during more than a century of human activity.  It seems paradoxical that a conservation project is located in a context that is not especially “natural” but this circumstance has been intelligently used by the Garden, dedicated to the study, conservation and promotion of cultivated plants of all types: ornamentals, medicinal, etc. as well as the development and adaptation of gardens and natural landscapes even within this industrial, urban context.  The visit was led by the curator of the botanical collection of the RBG, Alex Henderson, accompanied by other staff members. They were highly interested about our Garden and ideas for exchanges and collaboration in the future were planted.




GRACIAS to our Anonymous Donor

We send our heartfelt thanks to a generous supporter of El Charco who recently gave us 75,000 pesos to finish the necessary work on the Boveda, our multi-use space. This donation will allow us to extend the roof next to the kitchen, put in a stone path around the perimeter to facilitate access, and do all the finishing touches. Gracias!


El Charco present at the annual meeting of the Association of Mexican Botanical Gardens (AMJB):

From September 8-11, 2009 in the Biology Institute of UNAM en the city of Mexico, the annual reunion of this association took place which unites more than 60 Botanical Gardens from the Republic.  As an official member of AMJB, the Charco was represented by its Director, Mario Hernandez, at the planning sessions and by Eugenia Velasco, Director of the Environmental Education Program of San Miguel (PEASMA).  This organization started as an initiative of FAI Save the Children and El Charco in 2002 and has acquired autonomy and encouraging presence in San Miguel over time. Eugenia’s presentation described PEASMA’s experience, a practical model which is an example for other Gardens in the country and was received with much interest by the assembly.


Water Treatment Plant in Parque Landeta

Recently the Municipal Government formally received responsibility for the water treatment plant in Parque Landeta from the State Commission of Water of Guanajuato (CEAG).  The plant is currently functioning at half its capacity. It has a flow of approximately 3 liters/second which permits the submerged bed to retain enough water for the plants to take root and get established.  As we have noted, El Charco has assumed the responsibility for the management of the plants.  Most of the planting is done and the final section of canna lilies will be completed early October.

water treatment


Charco voted #1 Activity in San Miguel

Thank you to everyone who voted us number one in the Explore and Go survey:



by Walter L. Meagher


In the matorral (brushland) of El Charco, to the left of the path descending from La Tienda toward the wall of the dam, is a Pineneedle Milkweed plant, standing less than a meter tall. Perhaps there is more than one plant. At this season it is in fruit, and the fruits are conspicuous. The leaves are thin and needle-like; the plant looks like a little pine tree. Is it a shrub? It seems so. It looks woody, but it is herbaceous, dying back in winter. In Spanish it is called Venenillo (Little Poison), which is apt, as we shall see. I like the Latin name too, Asclepias linaria.

photo: Naomi Zerriffi

Click here for the rest of the story.


Guided Tours in English

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10a.m.-12:30p.m.
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. 


Bird Walks

October 7th and 21st -  starting at 9:00a.m.

This summer, for the first time ever, we had two species of Grebe--Least and Pied-billed--raising young on the presa and a pair of Eared Grebes in breeding plumage made an appearance for the first time. It is possible that these events are related to the construction of the islands and the resulting increase in vegetation to support nests. (Grebes build floating nests anchored to vegetation growing in the water.)

Pie-billed grebes

Also, the fall migration is in force, so we should look for additions to the bird population as winter visitors arrive and migrants pass through on their way further south.
The walks are for birders of all levels. They begin at 9:00 a.m. and will last about 2 1/2 hours. No reservations needed, and feel free to leave the walk at any time.  Please bring binoculars, wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, and bring water. Signe will meet you after you pass through the Reception area of the Botanical Garden. Cost: 50 pesos for members of either El Charco or Audubon, 80 pesos for non-members of either organization (includes El Charco entrance fee).


As you pass through the Gift Shop, be sure to notice the beautiful photos on the back wall by Josefina Aguirre, originally of Oaxaca, now residing in SMA.  Also on a nearby table are smaller, framed photos by  students of the University of Northern Guanajuato’s  photography class. After your visit of the Garden and Reserve, we’re sure you will enjoy the refreshments offered in our Café.


Yoga “Desde el corazón” (from the Heart)
in el  Charco del Ingenio

Cost 100 pesos per class, Mon & Wed 10-11:15

Monthly package (8 classes)  680 pesos
For more information or to reserve a space, please contact Juan Manuel: Tel 154-4715.
Need to bring yoga mat and blanket

Enjoy a wonderful yoga experience in a perfect setting.  Those who are familiar with this ecological site know that the experience starts at the entrance, its beauty immediately filling our senses.  The harmony, silence, peace, clean air, plants and animals make this place a fountain of inspiration in which to practice yoga in San Miguel.  El Charco del Ingenio offers a perfect mix that invites our senses to open up to the natural beauty around us and within us.


Ximena Velasco has practised yoga for 11 years and for the last 10 years has shared her passion for this philosphy-discipline through her classes.  She has studied in various countries such as France; Italy, India, Nepal, Australia, Mexico and the US among others.  She has explored various yoga techniques such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusara, y Vinyasa.  Her passion to understand the human body has led her to investigate other techniques of movement, meditation and alternative medicine to bring the necessary tools that her students need. Ximena teaches in several places in San Miguel.

Yoga, as other ancient philosophy-disciplines in the world, is inspired by nature, learning to observe, hear, feel and imitate.  This work allows us to observe, hear and feel ourselves, connecting us to our inner nature. If you are a lover of nature and yoga, this is a worthwhile experience whether you are a resident or visitor.


Sunday, October 4th 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.

We celebrate the Full Moon Ceremony to come back into balance with nature on earth. Come and enthusiastically participate and dedicate your intention and energies at the Plaza of the Four Winds.  Bonfire, incense, chanting, drumming included.  Bring flutes, cymbals, a drum or any other instrument if you want.  

It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. You may want to bring a coat for cool evenings.  Admission is 30 pesos, free for members. Children welcome. Any questions, call Alicia Mayo at 152 -0376.


Saturday, October 10th at 10a.m.
Sunday, October 11th at 10a.m.

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



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


“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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