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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

December, 2009 - Volume IV, No. 12

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.

El Charco - Audubon Joint Membership Drive - Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, and Friday-Sunday, December 11-13

"LOS QUE SE QUEDAN" Watch a movie and help support environmental education in SMA - Saturday, December 12

CELESTIAL LIGHTS IN EL CHARCO (Meteor Shower) - Sunday, December 13

WINTER SOLSTICE: A Gathering of Ancestral Traditions - Saturday and Sunday, December 19th & 20th

TEMASCAL - Saturday, December 12

Full Moon Ceremony - Thursday, December 31

Bird Walks - First and third Wednesday of the month

Yoga at El Charco - Mondays and Wednesdays

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays


El Charco Calendar 2010

This calendar contains reproductions of 12 oil paintings by the international artist, L. Sabrina Gaydos, which show examples of both rescued cacti and others from the land inside the Garden.

Sabrina dedicates this calendar to a great teacher, botanist and friend, Roy Turner, who enthusiastically introduced her to El Charco from which the inspiration came for this project.  The calendars will be available for $120 pesos at the Gift Shop at El Charco starting December 1st as well as other establishments in town.

The original oil paintings shown in the calendar may be purchased directly from the artist by contacting her at






WINTER SOLSTICE: A Gathering of Ancestral Traditions

winter solstice   To celebrate the Winter Solstice, el Charco del Ingenio will have three days of  events of traditional and ancestral knowledge from our region and Mexico, including:
  • Lectures about history, traditional medicine, pre-Hispanic astronomy, energy, midwiferyand more.
  • Pre-columbian instruments music
  • Photographic exhibitions and art installations
  • Poetry
  • Traditional food
  • Masajes and sobadas
  • Natural products market
  • Workshops for children
  • Temazcales (special price $100, call for reservation)
  • Ceremony of Winter Solstice
  • Arts and crafts

Saturday and Sunday, December 19th & 20th from 10a.m. – 6p.m.
Monday, December 21st from 10a.m. – 2p.m.
COST: $10pesos (Saturday and Sunday). Children are free.
Free on Monday.


Led by Phyllis Burton Pitluga, Astronomer Emeritus, Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Chicago
Sunday, December 13, 2009, 6 pm to midnight
General admission 10 pesos, children under 12 free (donations are appreciated)
Food, Warm Drinks & Bonfire

meteor shower

An astounding 120 meteors an hour (2 per minute) are predicted to rain across our sky, reason enough to celebrate with a special observing night under the stars.
The Geminid meteor shower particles are the only grains we know of that come from an asteroid (other meteor-shower grains come from decayed comets). The asteroid 3200 Phaethon must be colliding with other little rocky objects in its vicinity to be providing the debris field that we currently orbit through every December. These grains heat up from friction with Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating the glowing trails across our sky. Come enjoy the celestial lights of our holiday season – the Geminid Meteor Shower, and other telescopic celestial wonders - at El Charco del Ingenio.

  • The planets Mercury and Jupiter
  • Colorful Double Stars
  • Star Clouds and Clusters
  • Andromeda Galaxy

Suggestions: Come in warm clothing, carry a flashlight (dimmed by putting your flashlight in a brown paper bag or cover it with red tissue paper so as not to destroy our night vision) and bring a portable telescope or binoculars to share, if you wish.

**If the sky is more than half covered with clouds at 5 p.m. we will cancel the event. Please phone 154.4715 if you are uncertain.


New PR Director in El Charco

marlene parra  

Since November, Marlene Parra has been in charge of public relations at the Botanical Garden, a position of growing importance for our conservation project.  Marlene is Mexican, has been residing in San Miguel for many years, is bilingual and experienced in graphic arts and promotion.

Her relationship with El Charco is not new since she has previously assisted us both professionally and as a volunteer on several occasions. Marlene will be in charge of a variety of activities including organizing events at El Charco as well as PR work with the government, other organizations, the media and the various sectors of San Miguel society.  We welcome Marlene to our team!



As part of our new strategies of promotion, we are now part of the huge worldwide community on Facebook! Add us to your list, become a fan, leave a message, look our galleries, share your opinions, link photographs about El Charco with us, be up-to-date on all the events, invite your friends! Look for us as ‘Charco del Ingenio’ or add us through


charco and audubon

El Charco - Audubon Joint Membership Drive Starts December 5

For the first time, El Charco del Ingenio and the Audubon Society are offering a joint membership since members of both organizations share a common interest in the environment.

Look for the “Aves y Agaves” posters in front of the table in the Jardin from 11 to 3 on the first two weekends in December (Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, and Friday-Sunday, December 11-13). Knowledgeable volunteers will answer your questions and help you join—or renew your membership in—either or both organizations. As a bonus for joining both, you’ll receive a 10% discount. With joint membership you receive a card from both organizations and all the privileges and benefits of separate memberships in each. Renewals start when current memberships expire.

With the specially designed Aves y Agaves gift certificate, you can give a friend or loved one memberships in both organizations or either one. In addition to the discount, a surprise bonus gift will come with each membership

Aves y Agaves fundraising auction on February 14, 2010

aves y agaves  

A professional auctioneer will auction off nature-themed art made exclusively for the event by more than 35 of San Miguel’s most notable artists. Plans also call for an “Antiques Roadshow”-style event the day before the auction, so start thinking about those great pieces of folk art, pottery or furniture you’d like to have appraised.

The membership drive and benefit will support the important goals the two organizations share: protecting the natural environment, educating people about it, providing nature and wildlife experiences for adults and children, and acting as advocates for the environment, working with government at all levels.



Instructors from Denver return to El Charco for more classes in the Spring.  From February 27 to March 5 there will be a class in colored pencil given by Susan Rubin.  Colored pencils are perfect for sketching on location as well as producing studio pieces. This class starts with color theory and color mixing by layering and moves on to a comprehensive intro to techniques for drawing effectively in this media – application, building, blending and burnishing. 

From March 1-5 there is a course for illustrators, gardeners and amateur botanists with Mervii Hjelmroos-Koski.  Learn to observe plant anatomy and recognize botanical details and study plant morphology.

botanical illustration
drawings by Susan Rubin

Capturing Cacti in Colored Pencil will take place from March 8-12 with Susan Rubin. There are only 5 places available for this class.  Learn about the botanical attributes that make succulents unique in the plant world. Lessons will target techniques to portray needles, spines and ridges as well as the smooth flesh of succulents.

For more information and to register, contact

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

Books Donated to El Charco’s Research Library

Mario Mendoza, Dutch Vanderport and the director of the Jardín Botánico, Mario Hernández


A sincere thank you to Dutch Vanderport for donating an incredible collection of about 125 books about plants which has enriched our library.

The collection includes some valuable books and general publications documenting several botanical families such as bromeliads, cycads and palms. 

We hope that Dutch will come and visit his collection frequently and that others will enjoy and make good use of these books.

Photography Collection Donated to El Charco

We thank Charles Stutts, resident of San Miguel, for his generous donation of photos of the cactus collection at El Charco, some of which can be seen in his Picasa Web Album.

fotos cactus

December 2 and 16 -  starting at 9:00a.m.

photo: Jennifer Haas

November saw the arrival of wintering House Wrens, elusive but heard scolding from many trees and bushes. Families of Scott's Orioles showed the varieties of immature plumage, and migrating Hooded Orioles were seen. Some very cooperative Phainopeplas hung out close to the Visitors' Center. On the presa, both Canvasback and Pintailed Ducks were spotted, while the Landeta marsh & mudflats hosted Long-billed Dowitchers, American Pipits, Black-necked Stilts, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer & Semi-palmated Plovers, and lots of little "Peeps" -- Western and Least Sandpipers. Look for more new arrivals in December and January.

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).


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. 

POINSETTIA by Walter L. Meagher

fountain with nochebuena
photo by Wendy Meagher

I have not met an English boy who knows that McDonald’s is an American invention – it is thought to be English – nor an American lad who knows that the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. was the gift of an Englishman, an heir of the Earl of Northumberland. Origin and heritage are even more confounded in the life of plants.

The grass that everywhere colors with a tinge of pink the open spaces of El Charco, especially the Northern Upland, is from Africa, called Natal Grass (Rhynchelytrum repens). More than any other plant, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a source of red in the palette of Christmas color. In North America, it is thought to be a US plant. But it is not. While not growing wild in El Charco, at Christmas time, noche buena (poinsettia) decorates shop doorways, surrounds the statue of El Pípila at the glorieta by Pollo Féliz, ornaments the Jardín, and may construct a Christmas tree in front of the parroquia

To read the rest of this story, click here.

Watch a movie and help support environmental education in SMA

los que se quedan  

You are invited to the San Miguel premier of the movie, “Los que se Quedan” (Those Who Remain) on December 12th at 7p.m. in the Angela Peralta theater in San Miguel de Allende. The movie is directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo and Carlos Hagerman. 

“Los que se Quedan” is a film about the families of those who have crossed the border to the United States in search of better opportunities. Before the viewing of the movie there will be an inauguration cocktail and a photography exhibit on the same theme as the movie.

The event is a benefit for the environmental education organization, PEASMA, which is coordinated by Save the Children Mexico, Guanajuato Region and other civil organizations will be participating such as El Charco del Ingenio. To learn more see:
The tickets to this event cost $150.00 pesos each. 

New Entrance Fee Goes Into Effect

Starting December 1st, 2009, the entry fee is 40 pesos for the general public.  Given the growing costs of our conservation project and the diminishing value of our currency, we feel it is necessary increase the fee by 10 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). We thank you for your understanding.

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 cooperation.



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



egretphoto by Wayne Colony

The Gift Shop and Café

Consider doing your gift shopping this year at our gift shop where there is something for family and friends of all ages that you won’t find anywhere else, including our beautiful 2010 calendar with paintings by Sabrina Gaydos.  There are books, jewelry, t-shirts, lavender soaps, photos, instruments and much more.

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 Elvia Paredes
Saturday, December 12 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


Thursday, December 31 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.

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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