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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

September 2010 - Volume V, No. 9

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.


Lecture (IN SPANISH): Atotonilco and San Miguel - Saturday September 11

Kite Flying Contest - Saturday September 18

Massage Workshop (IN SPANISH) - Thursday-Saturday, September 23-25

Botanical Illustration classes - Monday September 27 - Friday October 1

Call for Proposals: Land Art - proposals due Monday, October 11

Fall Equinox and Full Moon Ceremony - Thursday, September 23

Traditional Temazcal - Saturday and Sunday September 25 and 26

Bird Watching tours - First and third Wednesday of the month

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

kite-flying contest

FIRST KITE FLYING CONTEST |  Saturday, September 18

Kites have always been a symbol of fun, joy and freedom and they also help us understand physics and natural phenomena.  To celebrate the arrival of windy Autumn we invite children and teens to participate in this first kite flying contest to keep the tradition (the nahuatl word, paploti means butterfly) and to promote creativity.  Here’s how it works:

  • All the kites made in the workshop on September 18th from 11am to 3p m at El Charco will participate.

  • The workshop costs $50pesos/participant (including materials). There are 2 categories: children from 7-12 (who may be assisted by an adult) and teens from 13-17 years old.

  • The competition will take place in Parque Landeta on the 18th from 4-5p.m.

  • Prizes will be given to the top 3 in each category. Judges will take into consideration 40% for originality and 60% for the highest flying kite.
  • The competition will depend on the weather that day.

For information and to registers:
Tel: (415) 154.4715 or (415) 154.8838


land art
photo by Hector Guevara

Proposal deadline: Monday October 11

Objective:  Use the landscape of El Charco del Ingenio as the scene for an artistic creation in harmony with the surroundings of the natural reserve using natural materials that fit both visually and ecologically with the environment.


  • Everyone over the age of 18 may participate, either as individuals or in a team.

  • Bring to El Charco’s reception a closed envelope with your proposal/ project which includes the principal idea, justification, description and conceptualization, the location inside the Garden where the project will be put, description of the materials and methods of construction, a sketch of the project with measurements, dimensions and time needed to complete.  Also please include a photo, a brief biographical sketch with your complete name, place and date of birth, actual address, telephone, email address, and a brief description of your artistic field on no more than 2 pages.

  • The natural materials (of course of the region) to use may be earth, rocks, branches, trunks, leaves, grass, flowers, seeds, water, air, natural pigments.

  • All costs and materials to be assumed by the participant.

  • Registration is $50 pesos (to be used for the inauguration). Each participant or team may submit up to 3 projects/ proposals.

  • Deadline for submitting the proposal is Monday, October 11, 2010 by 5p.m.

  • El Charco del Ingenio will chose 11 projects basing the selection on aesthetics and creativity as well as the respect and appropriateness of the project for the location.

  • The selected artists will be notified on Monday, October 18, 2010.

  • The selected artists will have 25 days to complete the project. The process for completion should be in consultation in advance with the Direction of El Charco.

  • The inauguration/ presentation of all of the projects will be Saturday, November 13th at 11am at the Garden.

  • All ephemeral works may stay indefinitely in the Garden if the staff deems it appropriate. All other works must be removed after December 31, 2010 at the artist’s expense unless the Direction of El Charco deems it necessary to remove the work sooner.

  • All selected participants will be recognized by El Charco del Ingenio.

To d ownload the rules, click here:

Join this first Land Art exhibition!!


September 27 – October 1

Since we started collaboration between El Charco and the Denver Botanic Garden, interest has increased in the classes. The classes have been well attended and their reputation has now spread. One class is already almost full so don’t wait or you may be disappointed.

The program is designed to teach the skills needed to render plants in remarkable scientific detail and the artistic techniques to create beautiful and lasting plant botanicals. The classes are appropriate for everyone from beginner to professional artist, photographer, graphic designer, etc.

The next set of classes are Composing Compelling Artwork which will be offered in the morning and in the afternoon there will be Flower Portraits in Pencil and Color. The first class focuses on composition. Students will learn to place their botanical subjects to best advantage using the principles of proportion, direction and flow. In Portraits students learn to draft the blossom in proper perspective, select a live specimen and work step-by-step from line studies through value mapping and color analysis.


illustration workshop
illustration by Marjory Leggett

To register or for more information: Marlene Parra:


"San Miguel el Grande y Atotonilco: realidades históricas complementarias"
Graciela Cruz | Saturday, September 11th | 4:30 p.m.
IN SPANISH / included in entrance fee

September is the bicentennial month, so we are having a lecture on “San Miguel el Grande and Atotonilco: complimentary histories” IN SPANISH.   San Miguel and Atotonilco have been linked by geography, in ways traced in the earth like unhealed scars, by old political, religious and economic aspects, by their citizens of old and today, by their deep spirituality, religiousity and symbolic foundations, by their bicentennial and centennial revolutions, and concretely, by a shared history that has been woven in the cloth of time.

Graciela Cruz Lopez has a degree in history and has specialized in the history of Guanajuato. She has participated in various projects at the University of Guanajuato and for the government of Guanajuato, the national museums (INAH), the College of Michoacan, the Academy of History of Madrid, the municipal government of San Miguel, the Biblioteca Publica and Bellas Artes in San Miguel, among others.

atotonilco y san miguel



The entrance, a bower which is being woven in the form of a boveda, is almost complete. This space for the young (and the not so young accompanying them) will bring back childhood memories and dreams.

children's garden entrance

The rainwater cistern is also almost done and on top is a spiral ramp leading to the Solar Calendar, a main module of this special garden.  Through a hole in the roof, the sun’s rays will mark the main astronomical and cultural dates (equinox, solstice, special celebrations, etc.) as well as the hours of the day (solar clock). 

This group effort is being managed by El Charco along with invited assistance from Timoteo Wachter, Guillermo Veytia and Betsy January as well as our maestros, Don Toño and Don Tereso.




This area of El Charco is now open and each day it is being used by more and more members. The comments by the users – important for us in this experimental time – have generally been very positive and all suggestions are welcome.  Soon signs will be posted and other elements added to make the space better, such as more benches for resting. If you are a member and are interested in using the Dog Park area, please see the Receptionist at the entrance to El Charco to learn more about the rules and how to use the park.   dog park



Last August 19th  in the University’s Gazette, the Rector published an announcement about creating a program to investigate the economic impact of climate change in Mexico in the research center in Parque Landeta.  Besides a program on Sustainable Development and the Economy, there will also be one dedicated to Environmental Education and Conservation.  There will be ways for the local government and civil organizations to participate in the management of these programs which will assure the continuity and development of Parque Landeta.

To read the Rector’s announcement, click here and go to page 21.


UNAM document



Abraham Garcia Granados, better known as “Tornillo” by the staff, has a key position in our organization. He is responsible for the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, a job he assumes with great pride. Tornillo started out in maintenance and lately was assisting in propagation where he learned some great secrets. His ability to learn and be a team player have made him a loved and appreciated person at El Charco.



Thursday, September 23 | 8 pm | Members free, $30 pesos general public

Since this month the Autumn equinox falls on the same day as the full moon, we will have a double celebration in the Plaza of Four Winds led by Dayana Paz, in charge of the temazcal and other workshops the last few months.

We suggest bringing a blue candle, orange or yellow flowers, or some similar offering to the wind such as incense.  It is worth coming a little early to watch the coincidence of the setting of the sun among the mountains on the horizon, and the rising of the moon. We recommend that you come with a jacket and bring a musical instrument.

equinox full moon



23, 24, 25 September | max. 15 persons | 600 pesos
($100 pesos discount if paid before September 17)

Objective: Learn holistic massage that will help people have self love. Five techniques are integrated to benefit different systems and organs: shiatsu, reflexology, acupressure, holistic massage and Swedish massage).

Class: History of massage, effects on organisms, when not to have a massage, chakras, use of breath in the massage, unblock energy, basic psycho-aromatherapy, preparation for a massage, effects of manipulations and routine of the massage.

Required materials:  towels, loose clothing, pillow or cushion with towel

When:  September 23, 24 from 12 – 5 pm and 25th from 11 am – 5 pm

  massage workshop

RESERVATION NECESSARY : | Tel:154.8838, 154.4715, o in the Botanical Garden visitor’s center.


Saturday, September 25 | 6 pm | Dayana Paz
Sunday, September 26 | 10 am | Dayana Paz
Cost $250 pesos | Limited space

This sweat-lodge steam bath, of ritual and healing character, takes place under the direction of an experienced temazcal leader in the ruins of the hacienda located in the Botanical Garden on the far side of the reservoir.

The combination of heat, humidity and fragrant herbs provides a purifying experience for the body and spirit. Its benefits are multiple: it activates circulation, increases the body’s defenses, eliminates pains, decreases uric acid, relaxes the muscles, regulates the nervous system, stimulates respiration and is excellent for losing weight.

RESERVATION NECESSARY: | Tel:154.8838, 154.4715, o in the Botanical Garden visitor’s center.




El Charco del Ingenio already has a prestigious reputation not only in San Miguel but throughout Mexico, and other parts of the world, and now more people in our neighboring city of Queretaro will know about it as well.  Recently, Monica Arias of Diario de Queretaro wrote an article in the “What to do” section about El Charco encouraging people from Queretaro to visit and enjoy the reserve.  The article can be read at :




We are pleased that organizations such as Salvemos al Rio Laja, Ecosystem Science, NRCS and USDA, have chosen El Charco as the venue for a First Workshop on the Management and Conservation of pasture land in farming sites in the upper watershed of the Rio Laja. This meeting will take place Tuesday, August 31 to September 2.  The El Charco team wishes all the participants good luck in their discussions and congratulations for such a detailed workshop.



Starting September 4th, we will be offering works by Liliana Zuppini inspired by elements of the Botanical Garden. Liliana was born in Mexico D.F. and currently resides in San Miguel de Allende. In her private classes she teaches drawing and painting (in various techniques) to people of all ages.  She incorporates in her paintings and sculptures natural and recycled materials. Liliana has also painted murals in hotels, schools, businesses and homes. She has exhibited her work in different parts of Mexico and has sold throughout the world.

You will also find in the store new T-shirts with prehispanic designs of various animals with their nahuatl names.  There are sizes and colors for all shapes and tastes.

All purchases at the store and cafe help our conservation project. Thank you!

  liliana zuppini




Since our friend, Alma Estrada, has moved from San Miguel we are canceling the yoga for children classes and monthly temazcals for children.  We wish Alma all the best in her future projects.

If you are interested in organizing a special temazcal for children, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We appreciate your understanding and we are open to any proposals which will benefit and augment childrens environmental consciousness.



El Charco is always looking to improve its services to the public. Our latest effort involves remodeling the plant sale area for which we need some tree trunks in good condition, 35cm wide by 120cm (max) high.  If you have any fitting this description you would be willing to donate, please contact Marlene at Thank you.

plants for sale


Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am | en English
Duration: two hours | Cost: $80 pesos, members $50

If you haven’t visited the Garden recently, this is a magnificent time of the year to do so. The reservoir has lots of water, the days are sunny and the climate perfect for a wonderful walk. The Charco is full of color from the wildflowers and it’s the season for spectacular sunsets. Visit the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, the canyon, the wetlands, archeological vestiges and much more.

guided tours


First & third Wednesday of the month | 9 am to 11:30 am                                                                                                           
Cost:  100 pesos general public | $60 pesos Audubon or El Charco members
Guide: Signe Hammer

The walks are for birders of all levels. They begin at 9:00 am 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.

Fall migration has begun here with the arrival of two winter residents, Lark Sparrows and a Spotted Sandpiper. Six other sparrow species will be arriving to join our two year-around ones, Black-chinned and Chipping Sparrows. These two are pretty easy to tell apart: the Black-chinned has a distinctive plain gray head and chest, with black around the bill and down the chin; the Chipping has a rust-colored crown, white “eyebrow” and black eye line.

In the winter, though, except for the Black-chinned all bets are off. The winter Chippies lose their distinctive marks and blend in with Clay-colored and Brewers—except for that black eye-line, which, if you look closely, will distinguish them.
The Lark Sparrow is easy to identify, with its rich chestnut cheek patch and cap, distinct white crown stripe, black “whisker” stripe and dark spot on clear breast. Clay-colored and Brewer’s are also clear-breasted, but paler, with stripy yellowish-brown wings and backs. Clay-colored usually has a stronger face pattern than Brewer's, and buffy flanks. But sometimes it’s too close to call.

And then there are four species of streaky-breasted winter sparrows! More on those next month.



agave  garambullo  pajaros  nopales  bisnaga

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