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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

November, 2009 - Volume IV, No. 11

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.

Day of the Dead Altar in El Charco - Sunday and Monday, November 1 and 2

Garden Lecture Series: Natural Dyes for Textiles - Friday, November 27

Botanical Illustration classes - November 30

TEMASCAL - Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1

Full Moon Ceremony - Monday, November 2

Yoga at El Charco - Mondays and Wednesdays

Bird Walks - Wednesday November 4 and 18

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

REMINDER: New Rules Concerning Access to El Charco with Pets

By agreement of the Board of Directors, starting November 1st, 2009, no dogs or other pets will be allowed in the Botanical Garden (see October newsletter).  This measure – permanent and which applies to all visitors – does not include Parque Landeta where dogs may go free as long as the owners are respectful of the biodiversity and the other visitors.  Dogs without owners discovered inside the Botanical Garden and the Reserve, may be captured and taken to the Department of Ecology.  We thank you for your understanding and collaboration.

Ilustraction by Dante Escalante, Historias de un Jardín charco del ingenio Ed. Santillana


New Entrance Fee to the Garden

For the last eight years, the entry fee for the general public has been 30 pesos per person.  Given the growing costs of our conservation project and the diminishing value of our currency, we feel it is necessary to raise this fee to 40 pesos.  The reduced rate of 20 pesos for students, teachers and groups will remain the same as will the yearly membership price of 600 pesos (which allows the cardholder and 2 guests entry year round as well as discounts for the cardholder). The new entrance fee will come into effect December 1, 2009.  We thank you for your understanding.

botanical garden
Photo by Patricia Lagarde, Historias de un Jardín copyright Ed. Santillana

Sunday, November 1st and Monday, November 2nd
DAY OF THE DEAD Altar in El Charco
Boveda – multi-use space

Every year the Garden prepares an altar for Day of the Dead under the guidance of Hermes Arroyo, artistic director of El Charco. This year it will be dedicated to Benito Diaz de Gamarra, an intellectual and historical figure of importance for San Miguel at the end of the XVIII century. He had a large influence, still undervalued to this day, on a group of young criollos such as Allende, the Aldama brothers and other locals who initiated the Independence movement. He was rector and teacher of many generations of Sanmiguelenses at El Colegio de Francisco de Sales, an educational institution that was in the vanguard of New Spain, where he taught philosophy and science (Descartes, Copernicus, Newton). Besides being a writer, theologian and philosopher, Gamarra was also a naturalist, and, as far as we know, was the first to write about the natural resources of San Miguel. 

The altar will open to the public on Sunday, November 1st at 4:00p.m.  There will be punch, atole, tamales and more as well as music and eulogies. We hope to share this offering with friends and members of El Charco.  Entrance is free.

  Juan Benito Díaz de Gamarra


Advances in the Program of Rescuing Endangered Cacti

micro propagation  

With the idea of preserving these three species, and using specimens from its collection, the Botanical Garden created a program with specialists from a Research Centre (CINVESTAV-IPN), Unidad Irapuato and the Agricultural University of Havana, Cuba, to establish protocols that allow reproduction in vitro.  From germinating these seeds, they have been successful in growing Geohintonia mexicana, and somewhat successful with Aztekium hintonii.  Studies will continue over the next few months, hopefully with better results.

This program of research and production in vitro consists of three species of cacti: Geohintonia mexicana, Aztekium hintonii y Aztekium riterii.  These are species on the point of extinction due to high extraction rates from its natural habitat for resale to collectors, as well as for its difficulty to propagate and the slowness with which it grows (a plant reproduced by seed in a greenhouse takes 10 years to reach 2.5cm.).

The micropropagation of cacti to conserve them has recently received much attention, since this will relieve pressure on the populations in their natural habits. With this program, gifted by an grant from the British Cactus and Succulent Society, El Charco del Ingenio will have between 800 and 1000 plants of Geohintonia mexicana by the end of 2009 to conserve and exchange with other scientific institutions as well as for sale at the Garden.

Geohintonia mexicana propagated in vitro


El Charco del Ingenio collaborates on a book on biodiversity in Guanajuato

On October 1st, 2009 an agreement was signed between CONABIO (Nacional Comisión on Biodiversity) and the Government of Guanajuato to work out a strategy to conserve the biodiversity in the State, in which government officials participated as well as outstanding researchers such as Dr. Jerzi Rezdowski, one of the most important botanical authorities in Mexico.  One of the initial activities will be the publication of a preliminary diagnostic coordinated by Dr. Rosario Terrones in which the Botanical Garden will be used as a “case study” given the variety and high risk category of wildlife in El Charco (in the Reserve there are 29 species categorized as endangered or under special protection :  5 flora, 9 birds, 4 mammals and 11 reptiles and amphibians).

We believe this invitation is not only a recognition of our conservation work but also of the studies and inventories done by our collaborators, especially Walter L. Meagher (flora), Wayne and Susan Colony (birds, butterflies, dragonflies, geology), Roberto Aviña (mammals) and Raul Hernandez (reptiles, amphibians). We thank Britta Jankay and biologist Flor A. Rodríguez for their assistance in organizing the text for this publication.

Dr. Jerzi Rezdowski, César Arias, and Mario Hernández


Stop Work Order
on “El Deseo” by PROFEPA (Federal Environmental Protection Office)

October 10th inspectors from PROFEPA put locks on this development, the owners of which had started to ask protection from the previous government, ignoring the protests of various sectors of society. For quite some time the Botanical Garden has been asking them to revise their project so as not to be in contravention with current legal statues or to commit an outrage against the Ecological Preservation Zone.

We hope that after this action by PROFEPA that the developers will finally decide to accord their project with the conservation project of El Charco del Ingenio and not the other way around as they have tried to date.

  el deseo

Natural Dyes for Textiles, by Remigio Mestas
Friday, November 27th at 10:00a.m.

Our guest speaker this month has been involved with weaving since the age of seven.  A native of Yalalag, Villa Hidalgo in the State of Oaxaca, Remigio emigrated to the capital of Oaxaca with his family when he was four years old. His mother wove on a backstrap loom and used a sewing machine, while his father made shirts and muslin trousers. In 1978 he opened a high quality textile shop while attending junior high school, and beginning to create woodcarvings and in 1996, Remigio earned a degree in accounting. 

But his passion remained weaving and Remigio sought out only the most beautiful, unique textiles to sell in his shop, and began to build a clientele interested in purchasing exquisite handcrafted pieces made with only the finest materials, including those made with natural dyes. He began to dye yarn and provide them to weavers, and in this way a new era for Oaxaca textiles began.


Remigio is a master who enjoys teaching customers about the qualities and intricacies of each textile. In 2006, Remigio opened a shop in San Miguel on Recreo called “Juana Cata”.  Textiles from Juana Cata have been featured in books, magazines and TV documentaries internationally and are treasured acquisitions of museums and collectors from around the world.

In this presentation Remigio will show us and explain about the plants and animals used in making natural dyes for Mexican textiles and the meaning of the motifs in the designs. There will also be 2 weavers from Buena Vista Tepamtepec who will demonstrate the ancient technique of backstrap weaving. The talk will be in Spanish with simultaneous translation.

Please reserve a space at  Members of El Charco pay 70pesos, non-members 100pesos.


Starting November 30 ...

During the month of November, superb examples of botanical illustration by local artists may be seen at Terra, Hospicio #37.  Information about the botanical illustration classes being offered at El Charco del Ingenio by instructors from the Denver Botanic Garden will also be available.  The first set of classes are from November 30-December 4. 

botanical illustration
drawings by Constance Sayas and Susan Rubin

The morning class during this week will be an introductory one entitled “Botanical Illustration in Graphite”, which is important to take for anyone interested in furthering their skills for future classes and receiving credit towards a certificate in Botanical Illustration. It begins with a brief history and overview of the specific elements of illustration and you will learn the techniques for realistic drawing in graphite pencil. You will emerge from this class with the skills you need to draw anything. This class is appropriate for beginners as well as accomplished artists. In the afternoon students may take “Gaining Perspective” in which you will learn to create the illusion of 3-D depth on a 2-D surface as well as techniques for seeing and depicting perspective accurately.  This class is also open to all. 

The next set of classes in this series being offered by Denver will be February 27 – March 5.  For more information and to register, contact

For a complete list of classes coming in 2010, please see our October newsletter.


El Charco and Audubon Society of Mexico Form Strategic Alliance

charco and audubon   Two of San Miguel’s foremost nonprofit environmental organizations—Sociedad de Audubon de Mexico and El Charco de Ingenio, the Botanical Garden—have formed a strategic alliance that will enable us to work together more effectively to achieve our goals, many of which are similar: to protect the natural environment, to educate people about it, to provide nature and wildlife experiences for adults and children, and to act as advocates for the environment, working with government at all levels.

In addition, both organizations’ goals include raising public awareness of their missions and activities, mobilizing local communities to action when appropriate, and raising the money necessary to carry out their missions.

While each organization will remain completely independent, joining forces on projects aimed at achieving our goals will enable Audubon and El Charco to tap into a larger pool of resources than either can mobilize alone—including ideas, volunteers, staff and skills. Our first joint project will be a fundraising auction—with a professional auctioneer—and membership drive, featuring a new dual-membership option at a discount. Going forward, the organizations see many potential synergies, including lecture series, nature trips and conservation activities.

Hold the date for the fundraiser:  February 14, 2010 from 1-3p.m. at El Charco.  Last year we sold out long before the event.  Ticket information will be available soon.

  aves y agaves

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. 


chipping sparrow  

Bird Walks
November 4 and 18 -  starting at 9:00a.m.

Winter residents are arriving, while some year-around residents have molted into winter plumage. October arrivals include Lark and Clay-colored Sparrows, with Chipping Sparrows now in winter plumage. On the presa, Ring-necked ducks, Northern Shovelers and both Blue- and Green-winged Teal have been seen, while Ruddy Ducks have molted into winter plumage, called "eclipse." Sandpipers and other waders are coming in to the Parque Landeta marsh.  Look for more new arrivals in November.

Left: Chipping Sparrow. Photo by Wayne Colony.

The walks are for birders of all levels. They begin at 9:00 a.m. and 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).

Right: Spotted Sandpiper. Photo by Wayne Colony


Zinnia & Tagetes by Walter L. Meagher
Photography by Richard Cretcher

wildflowers   These two plants flower in the same season, late summer to early autumn, side by side, around the edge of the presa, and in places outside El Charco where the ground has been disturbed; they overlook disturbance, destruction and upheaval in an expanding city, each having a beauty of its own.

Form and color are the two aspects of beauty most readily recognized in wildflowers. A walk in El Charco amongst a stand of wildflowers in full color frees the mind from its usual preoccupation with utility and possession.

Click here for the rest of the story.


The Gift Shop and Café


This month we are featuring our widely varied lines of jewelry including those made of seeds, beads, stones and natural objects.  We are constantly adding new products so be sure to have a look around on each visit. Later in November we will have an artistic calendar for 2010 with paintings by Sabrina Gaydos. Think about El Charco’s gift shop when considering a gift for friends and family – including a membership! And there are new tasty additions in the Café as well – stop by and be surprised.


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.

TEMASCAL with Alina Monterrubio
Saturday, October 31 at 10a.m.
Sunday, November 1 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


Monday, November 2 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.


A Day in the Life (a Thursday in October in El Charco)…

Early in the morning we had a group of 30 children from PEASMA (San Miguel’s Environmental Education Program) led by their guides and promotors. A little later, 60 children with their mom or dad from a local kindergarten arrived, 11 people from the Peace Corps, 35 students from the Science Faculty from UNAM and about 20 random visitors. The visit areas of El Charco were packed with people and it was such a great thing to see so many people around, strolling, enjoying, learning, discovering…


One of our members recommends El Charco

“If you are planning a daytime event, consider holding it at the Charco del Ingenio, the Botanical Garden.  There are outdoor and indoor meeting spaces, and a restaurant serving fresh and delicious food in an incomparable setting.  I held an event for more than 30 people, and we found that the Charco had round tables with linen and arrangements of wild flowers on each table.  The food was beautifully presented by a wait staff that couldn’t do enough to please us.  If you would like to make your next gathering extra-ordinary, there is no place like the Charco del Ingenio.” Miranda Nadel

You can make your arrangements with Mario Hernandez, the Director, at


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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