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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

November 2010 - Volume V, 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.




LAND ART inauguration - Saturday November 27

LAST BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION CLASSES FOR 2010 - Monday – Friday, December 6 - 10


Full Moon Ceremony - Sunday, November 21

Traditional Temazcal - Saturday and Sunday, November 20 and 21

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

Bird Watching tours - first and third Wednesday of the month



From Saturday, October 30th to Saturday, November 6th |Boveda | Free Entrance


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 we dedicate a special altar to our friend and benefactor, Walter Meagher, botanist and naturalist, who died in England this past July. On this occasion the traditional offerings to the dead will be accompanied by an exhibit of several plants which have finished their life cycle but still surprisingly conserve the beauty of their colors, textures and form. In this way, we honor Walter and demonstrate the importance of propagating species on the point of extinction.

The altar and exhibit will open to the public until Saturday, November 6th.


Land Art

November 27 | 11 am

We would like to thank all the participants who have joined this ambitious installation project in El Charco.  These projects which have a communion/communication with nature may be seen starting Saturday, November 27th.  The inauguration takes place that day at 11:00 am.  We hope you can join us for a walk around the paths of El Charco to discover the imaginative and creative works of our local artists.  Free with entrance.


Monday – Friday, December 6 - 10

Our last two classes for this year with instructors from Denver are already filling up.  Don’t be disappointed – only 14 places in each class.  You may register with Marlene at

Susan Rubin ilustracione
illustration by Susan Rubin

Botanical Illustration:  Focus on Form | 9 am - noon
Instructor: Susan Rubin

You can draw what you see.  Begin with a brief history and an overview of the specific elements of botanical illustration. Learn the techniques for realistic drawing in graphite pencil, including line drawing, shading and perspective. In a series of small studies and step-by-step exercises, you will train your eye to observe carefully and your hand to record what you see. Take your drawings from flat to fabulous.  The secret to portraying light and shadow on your subjects lies in understanding the scientific method of lighting as it applies to different forms. Beginning with basic geometric shapes, refine your skills in showing light and volume on any subject. As you progress to plant material, you will overcome the obstacles to creating three-dimensional drawings.  Study range of value, continuous tone, and textured highlights. The class will work entirely in graphite pencil, as the principles apply to all other media. You'll emerge from this class with the skills you need to draw anything.

Hand-made Journals & Hand Lettering | 1 – 4 pm
Instructor: Renee Jorgensen

Learn two skills together: practical, pleasing journals for your own daily use and calligraphy basics to make beautiful entries.  One of the earliest known sewn structures for bookbinding, Coptic bindings, are suitable for binding a variety of papers, and are elegant and sturdy enough for field or travel journals. You will make a simple hand-bound book with art paper and a decorative cover, for use as a nature journal. Explore a variety of options to personalize the journal with cover images, colophon and a dedication page.  When your journal is complete, learn the basics the beautiful art of calligraphic lettering. Whether you are labeling your botanical artwork, taking notes in your sketchbook, or even jotting entries into your garden diary, lovely lettering adds the final touch to all of your creative projects.



Mark your calendars and a Call to Artists
Sunday, February 27, 2011  | 12 – 3 pm

This coming year, the Botanical Garden's 20th anniversary, our annual fundraising event will have a special meaning since we will dedicate it to these wonderful life forms that have inhabited Planet Earth for thousands of years: TREES.  The United Nations has designated 2011 as the International Year of Forests to give attention at a global level to their importance in our lives and to their endangered status.

We invite artists, designers and architects in San Miguel to participate in this event by creating something with the theme of trees which will be part of a silent or live auction.  A surprise category this year is wearable art inspired by our local natural environment. There will be live music, food and drink.

Let your imagination take flight and sign up to design either a piece of wearable art or artwork based on trees and forests.  Please let us know as soon as possible if you will be joining us in this creative, exciting and annual adventure. Email or to sign up or if you have questions.

arboles para la planetadibujo por Dante Escalante, Historias de un Jardín Botánico, Ed. Santillana.


City Council Unanimously Approves the Regulations for the Ecological Zone

Finally, after five years of negotiation, the Regulations for the Management Plan of the Preservation Zone of El Charco del Ingenio will go into effect now that it was approved by City Council this past October 28th.  Past administrations, while announcing the Declaration (2005) and the Management Plan (2007), did little to gain judicial recognition. They did not register the regulations in the Official Gazette of the State (which our association did in 2006) and the paperwork was never registered in the Public Register (something the new municipal government did a few months ago). Most importantly, the Management Plan approved in 2007 was left out of the provisions for the protection of the zone.  Our association’s proposals to complete the process were rejected by the last administration and in fact building permits were given which contravened the Declaration of the Protected Zone.  Fortunately, the new administration through the Department of Ecology submitted to city council a plan that included our previous proposals finishing a long process of consultation with various social groups in our town.

zona ecologica

The new Rules not only clearly regulate activities in the area but also establish mechanisms for participation and decision making for involved sectors (civil organizations, communities, researchers, businesses and government) represented in an Advisory Council which will be functioning very shortly.  At last!



Historias de un Jardin Botanico

More than a hundred people from various sectors of our population atended the presentation of this book, dedicated to El Charco del Ingenio which was recently published by the prestigious Santillana Editorial house.  The book was presented by the editor, Maria Angeles Gonzalez, the illustrator, Dante Escalante, the photographer, Patricia Lagarde,  the writer, Luis Palacios and by Cesar Arias on the part of El Charco and as author of several chapters. Their words were very moving and even more so the thunderous and well deserved applause for El Charco’s team, who were present and who are the daily builders of this beautiful work of rescue and conservation of this little piece of our natural heritage.

The book is available at Tecolote (Jesús street), A la Deriva (Correo and Aurora), Border Crossing (Reloj and Mesones) and of course at the gift shop at El Charco, and costs 400pesos.  It makes a beautiful gift!

presentacion del libro


Books for consultation on plants and natural resources

Since its beginning, the Botanical Garden has built up a collection of books and publications linked to its main activity: conservation of flora and natural resources of arid and semiarid regions of our continent.  To date the collection has more than 1,000 books and other publications in both Spanish and English, located in the offices of El Charco.  Two ex-librarians in our community, Kate and Roger Brudno, generously donated their time and skill to cataloguing the collection and creating a digital database.. 

The most important theme in our library is Mexican flora, with a preponderance of studies of cacti and succulents, not just from a botanical perspective but also from an ecological and cultural one.  The library also has books about gardening, horticulture, forests, wetlands, and local fauna.  There are publications about environmental education, conservation of resources, and natural protected areas.

It’s easy to find what you’re looking for and there are tables and chairs for reading and researching (not a lending library).  It’s open to everyone, members and general public, from Monday to Friday. We recommend you make an appointment by calling 154 4715 or 154 8838.  Come and be surprised.




It has been a challenge and responsibility to preserve Mexican biodiversity and we are proud of our accomplishments to date.  We are at a point where we need to grow as an institution that continues to be a reference in the theme of the environment.  Our botanical collection, natural reserve and regional plants merit this advancement.  To complete this part of our mission, we are looking to hire a biologist, preferably a recent graduate with a specialty in botany who has research experience, can write well, has a good level of English and who is ready to join this adventure.  If you are interested or know of someone who might be interested, please contact .

reserva natural



Members and friends:  In November you will be receiving a letter with our exciting plans for 2011, which is our 20th anniversary, and an appeal for donations – for the first time. ANY amount is appreciated.
The letter you will receive in the mail will have a convenient form and envelope inside which may be delivered either to Border Crossings or El Charco’s reception, but you may also read it now:




The advances in the modules and stations in this new area of the Botanical Garden, dedicated to children, youth and families, are now visible.  The rainwater cistern is finished.  The lookout offers extraordinary vistas of the reservoir.  The solar calendar, with its beautiful forms and textures, will be functioning starting in November and promises to be a big surprise. The sandy area, pond, amphitheater, and labyrinth of aromatic plants will be completed in the following months.  Once again, we thank Save the Laja Foundation for its support of this project and thanks to everyone who has come forth with comments.  

jardin de la tierra



In the Botanical Garden we have someone with a vision of innovation, creativity and magic – this is Hermes Arroyo.  Our “creativo” as we call this San Miguel artist, is well known as the maker of masks and mojigangas (giant puppets) for the traditional festivals of this town.  Hermes has been working at El Charco for many years and understands perfectly the spirit of the site (does he have a pact with El Chan?), to the point that he has had a definite influence on the rustic and ingenious style of the Garden today.  Using materials from the site itself (wood, branches, stones, earth, reeds) and with his indefatigable energy, he creates surprising objects and installations throughout El Charco.  With his joy, simplicity and passion for El Charco, Hermes is a key part of the team that gives life each day to the Botanical Garden. 

hermes arroyo



mari jose marin  


We give an enormous thanks to Mari Jose Marin, talented San Miguel artist who uses nature in all of her works, for the donation of a beautiful oil painting which resulted from her visits to El Charco. 

The work is exhibited in the offices at the Garden.




November 18th, | 5 – 8 pm | $50 pesos entrance | Cuesta de San Jose 32

This fun event, full of surprises, will be an important fundraiser for PEASMA, the environmental education program in San Miguel.   We invite the entire community to attend and support this important work. All proceeds from this evening will go to primary school activities which give children the information they need for a healthy life for themselves and our environment.



Sunday, November 21 | 7 pm| Plaza of 4 Winds | Members free, $30 pesos general public

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. Children welcome. Any questions, call Alicia Mayo at 152 .0376.

luna llena


Saturday, November 20 |  10 am | Alina Monterrubio
Sunday, November 21 | 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 | Tel:154.8838, 154.4715, or in the Botanical Garden visitor’s center.



Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am | in English

Duration: two hours | Cost: $80 pesos, members $50

During this time of year, one can observe the many butterflies that make El Charco their home. The magnificent sunsets of this season and the golden hues that have begin to extend along the paths make the Botanical Garden an ideal place to share moments of tranquility.
Visit the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, the canyon, the wetlands, archeological vestiges and much more.

visitas guiadas
foto Nico Dams


Every first and third Wednesday of the month
| 9 am – 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.

House Wren

hooded oriole

Our migrating and winter visitors have been arriving at a great rate! First of the wintering-over songbirds to be seen were the Lark Sparrows, now followed by Clay-colored and Brewers. Colorful migrating Hooded and Scott’s Orioles have been seen, as has the beautiful Varied Bunting, while House Wrens have been heard scolding from the bushes. On the presa, newly arrived wintering waterfowl include Northern Pintail, Green- and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler and Ring-necked Duck. In addition, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots, which were unusually scarce this summer, have returned in force. Waders in Landeta marsh include American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Spotted Sandpiper and lots of immature White-faced Ibis, with plain gray faces, heads and necks. Good birding!


calendario 2011  


If you are looking for a special gift for yourself or someone else, while at the same time contributing to a good cause, you may purchase our 2011 calendar starting November 8th which features “Artists for El Charco.”  What better way to appreciate each month of this 20th anniversary year than with a beautiful canvas of images from our artist friends.

And in the café…a new drink that has been very successful these past weeks – aguamiel (honey water) from producers in Tambula.  This is an ancient drink full of protein and vitamins.  If you’ve never tried this gift of the gods before, come and do so at El Charco.




agave  garambullo  pajaros  nopales  bisnaga

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