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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

May, 2009 - Volume IV, No. 5

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.

An Unexpected Contingency

No one could have imagined a few days ago the health crisis that today threatens the whole world, and in a particularly severe manner, Mexico. San Miguel de Allende, a city whose economy revolves around local and international tourism, is now suffering from the notorious absence of alternative employment and production. The collapse of tourist activity and the pervasive uncertainty regarding the duration and development of this epidemic has produced a situation that is very difficult and worrisome for all. Of course, there are fewer foreign visitors to El Charco, income is declining and various activities has been reduced or cancelled (lectures, meetings, temascales). This is a piece of reality that we have to confront … but perhaps, in order to break out of the shock produced by following the news media about the course of the epidemic, and the feeling of being enclosed in our homes due to the lack of social activity in town, we suggest to our readers, who are for the most part members and friends of the Botanical Garden, that you come to El Charco from time to time – without a doubt, a place quite safe from contagion – to walk, to breathe, to get a little exercise and open your senses to the natural beauty that, in spite of everything, is still here.
You are always welcome here.

-- Cesar Arias, President of the Board of Directors


Earth Day in San Miguel – Celebrated April 25th

Many children and some adults spent the Saturday morning learning about the local flora and fauna and environment while cleaning up trash they found along the way on their walk from the Botanical Garden to Parque Landeta. There was an educational video shown in the Boveda as well as other activities to teach about our relationship to nature. The morning events ended in Parque Landeta where fruit, juice and sandwiches were served, mojigangas danced, and prizes were distributed. The prizes consisted of free entrance tickets to the Botanical Garden, T shirts, and small good luck charms to remind us of the importance of working as a team and taking care of our environment. Thanks to everyone who participated in this successful Earth Day event, mainly local schools, with special recognition to the San Miguel Environmental Education Program (PEASMA), launched by Save the Children (FAI), as well as UNAM, the new custodian of Parque Landeta.

dia de la tierra

dia de la tierra

Gardeners Help in El Charco – and again, May 20th

As part of our Earth Day activities, members and friends responded to our call to send their gardeners to El Charco for a day, and some other residents also came to help.  A team of 15, led by Mario Mendoza, Director of the Botanical Garden, worked several hours removing paixtle (an invasive epiphyte that can smother a tree). The gardeners also received training from the staff about handling and gardening with succulents, which are beautiful and need little water. The experience was so successful for everyone that we would like  to make it a permanent program and welcome the gardeners at El Charco once a month. For the month of May our Director will meet the gardeners at 9:00a.m. on May 20th to assign tasks. There will also be training sessions on gardening techniques.  Please email with any ideas you may have concerning this new program.



El Charco staff members at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

As part of the collaboration between our organization and the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) of Phoenix, Arizona, Marta García Granados and Lorena Gutiérrez, curators of the El Charco botanical collection, spent a month visiting the DBG, perhaps the most important cacti garden in the world.  Marta and Lorena received a warm welcome from the Directors of the Garden and the DBG curator of plants, Raul Puente, and subsequently received 15 days of intensive training in the management of cacti and succulents.  At the same time, they brought their experience and knowledge from years of working at El Charco under the guidance of our dear friend and curator of plants, Martin Smith. It was an great experience for them and they have returned enriched, with much to teach us.  We send a heartfelt thank you to the DBG for providing this opportunity and hope it is only the beginning of further collaboration.

lorena y martita


Donation of Books by  Huntington Gardens
in El Charco’s Library

A significant donation of books from the Huntington arrived this month from Pasadena, California, which will enrich our collection on plants and natural resources.  This is part of a program of collaboration between the two Gardens, thanks to the help of two volunteers, Roger and Kate Brudno – friends and excellent librarians who spent weeks cataloguing not only this new collection but all of the books in our library.  The complete inventory can now be consulted in English and Spanish at

Many thanks to both the Huntington and Roger and Kate!

  roger and kate




Talks about El Charco
at the Toronto Botanical Garden

This past April 21st, the local Cacti and Succulent Club of Toronto invited our President, Cesar Arias, to give an audio-visual presentation entitled, “El Charco del Ingenio: the building of a botanical garden in Mexico.” 

A donation of $225 USD was made to our Garden by the Club after the talk.  Two more presentations by Cesar are planned for the month of May in the Toronto Botanical Garden, one for tourist guides and one for the staff and volunteers.


Snails & Slugs – Article by Walter L. Meagher

Little affection is shown for these animals. ‘Yucky slimy slugs.’ Well, of course! Snails and slugs eat vegetable matter, dead or alive, and will continue to do so, surviving our poisons, as the war against them goes on. As naturalists, we are struck by their number: forty thousand of all molluscs are gastropods. Struck by how, over evolutionary time, gastropods (snails, slugs and other kinds of terrestrial molluscs) have radiated into so many habitats. 
To read the rest of the article, click on this link: SNAILS & SLUGS
To read more about our local natural history, pick up a copy of Walter’s book, Wild & Wonderful, at the gift shop at El Charco.


YOGA EN EL CHARCO with Ximena Velasco.
every Monday & Wednesday from 10 – 11:15 am

Cost: 85 pesos /class, or monthly package of 8 classes for 560 pesos (70 pesos /class).
For more information or to reserve a space, please contact Juan Manuel:
Tel 154-4715.



Guided Tours in English

Tuesdays 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.


TEMASCAL - cancelled this month

Friday, May 8 at sunset
(8 p.m.)

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.  This is one of the most important Full Moons of 2009.  It amplifies the ongoing opposition between Saturn and Uranus.  Their face-off- heightens the contrast between hierarchy and democracy, the status quo and progress, fear and freedom.

Come and enthusiastically participate and dedicate your intention and energies on Thursday, April 9th at 8 PM at the Plaza of the Four Winds at the Jardin Botánico (don’t forget to change your clocks one hour ahead April 5th).  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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