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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

February 2011 - Volume VI, No. 02

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.


Camino de Besos - Path of Kisses - February 11

TREES FOR THE PLANET - ANNUAL FUNDRAISER auction - February 27, 2011

Spring Equinox concert - March 20

Traditional Temazcal - Saturday and Sunday, February 19 and 20

Full Moon Ceremony - Wednesday, Feb 18

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

Bird Watching tours - first and third Wednesday of the month


TREES FOR THE PLANET – Annual Fundraiser Art Auction
Sunday, February 27, 2011  |  12 – 3 p.m.
Tickets: $350 members, $500 non-members, on sale at El Charco, El Tecolote, Border Crossings and La Conexión

This coming year, the Botanical Garden's 20th anniversary, our annual fundraising event will have 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 focus attention at a global level upon their importance in our lives and their endangered status. Thus our fundraising efforts will be centered upon trees, and we have invited artists to contribute works inspired by this theme.

The auction could not be in better hands since our friend, well known actor and theater director José Luis Mendoza, will conduct it. After the auction we will have an anniversary celebration, with magnificent hors d'oeuvres, drinks and live Veracruz son music by the group Caña Dulce Caña Brava. In addition, we’ll have an unusual fashion show inspired by nature … all this, of course, in the Botanical Garden, thanks to the generosity of sponsoring individuals and organizations that support us.

For more information contact Marlene at




Extraordinary Trees of San Miguel

In order to emphasize the importance of trees in the places we inhabit, all year long we will present in this newsletter images of the most beautiful and impressive trees in our municipality, which, in our opinion, should receive special protection and be declared as part of the heritage of San Miguel de Allende.

The first magnificent tree that we wish to feature, for its dimensions, beauty and longevity, is the Montezuma cypress (sabino or ahuehuete) located in the community of La Huerta, on the bank of the Rio Laja near the Presa Allende dam. The perimeter of the base of its trunk measures more than 10 meters and its foliage provides ample shade for those who approach the spring that flows from its roots. Although we don’t have precise information, oral tradition and some documents indicate that it dates from the first wars of the Conquest, in the 16th century. The stories say that, after a bloody battle in the Puerto de Calderón in 1531, the indigenous people sued for peace and resolved to build a chapel dedicated to Christ of the Conquest. And there at the edge of the spring, they planted a tiny Montezuma cypress brought from Acámbaro, as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. This story could well be true, since we know of specimens of this native species (Taxodium mucronatum) that are more than 500 years old, such as the famous Arbol de Tule in Oaxaca, or in Mexico City, the Arbol de la Noche Triste (the Tree of the Sad Night) and some historical Montezuma cypresses in the Chapultepec Forest. Like them, the great Montezuma cypress of La Huerta is an imposing and silent witness of the history of its territory ...


El sabino


Our Spring Equinox celebration approaches … and how!

We think that the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Botanical Garden deserves a special celebration. We are pleased to inform you that the annual spring equinox concert, which has taken place every year in El Charco since 1999, will be a part of the program of the renown Festival of Baroque Music of San Miguel de Allende. And it will be a grand concert by the Orquestra Sinfónica Juvenil Silvestre Revueltas, which will culminate with Music of the Royal Fireworks by Handel. It will be the first time that a symphony orchestra plays before a large audience on the natural acoustic stage of the canyon of the Charco del Ingenio. An experience not to be missed! The concert will take place on Sunday March 20. More detailed information will appear in our next newsletter. For purchase of tickets (with special prices for members of the Botanical Garden), call (415) 154-4715.




Illustration course with Instructors from Denver
Succulents: Texture and form using colored pencil with Libby Kyer | February 7 - 11, 10 am - 1 pm at el Charco

We welcome Libby Kyer, the instructor who will give the first of three botanical illustration courses as part of our collaboration with the Botanical Garden of Denver, Colorado. Libby’s work, which can be found in private collections, has received various international prizes. She has taught art and botanical illustration for the certification program in Denver as well as in other parts of the United States since 2006. The techniques in which she specializes are pencil, pen, ink, graphite and mixed media. For more information about the upcoming courses in July and December, write to


botanical illustration



Collaboration with our friends of Camino Silvestre: CAMINO DE BESOS

camino de besos


1st Festival of Maguey a great success!

Approximately 500 people attended the January 23 festival dedicated to these succulent plants, of great historical and cultural importance in Mexico. Talks, showing of documentary films, music, sales of food and other products, samplings of pulques, curados y mezcales (fermented, pickled and distilled drinks) energized this festival, which we will without a doubt hold again in coming years.

Traditional Mexican music by Grupo Santiago

Documentary film Oficios antiguos todavía vivos: Los Tlachiqueros (2010 – Ancient Crafts still Alive: the Makers of Aguamiel) directed by Cristina Orci, who after the film demonstrated her knowledge of the maguey and its derivatives..

Pre-premiere of the documentary Maguey (2011) directed by Francesco Taboada, and Fernanda Robinson, co-producer and photographer.

Our mezcal distributor friends explain to the public the different species and processes used in various regions.



2011 CHARCO CALENDER | Artists For El Charco

There are still copies of our annual calendar available, commemorating the 20 years of the Charco del Ingenio and illustrated by images provided by talented artists. The calendar is on sale at the Visitor’s Center of the Botanical Garden and in various stores in San Miguel. Currently selling for only $80 pesos. Buy it, use it and thus support the programs of the Charco del Ingenio.

charco calendar



WILD FLOWERS OF SAN MIGUEL | New edition now available

This excellent field guide was published in 2006 by its author, Richard Crecher, North American resident in our city and collaborator with the Charco del Ingenio. The guide features a large number of local species in bloom, the majority of which can be found in the nature reserve of the Charco. In spite of its scientific rigor, the presentation is simple, in pocketbook form, and it includes a wide range of photographs taken by Richard in the countryside over the years. This second edition was jointly published by the Botanical Garden and the author, who has generously decided to donate all the proceeds from the book. On sale at the Charco del Ingenio store and in bookstores in San Miguel, for $150 pesos.

Wildflowers Book

jardin interactivo


If you take a walk in the Charco you can see enormous advances in the contruction of this new space dedicated above all to the youngest visitors of the Botanical Garden. The solar observatory is nearly done, and the amphitheater is completely finished. In addition, great news for users and visitors in the Charco: the scenic overlook that crowns this new space has a panoramic telescope (you don’t have to put coins in it). From there it is now possible to observe in detail the wildlife that populates the shores and islands of the reservoir, as well as the diverse plant life of the most distant reaches of the Nature Reserve.

jardin interactivo




Thank You

Our most sincere appreciation to Valerie Uteg, photographer who donated to the Botanical Garden an impressive pan shot of the entire Canyon of the Charco del Ingenio. This extraordinary photograph is exhibited in the Visitor’s Center and Garden store.



Notice to members

This year, due to the 20th anniversary of the Botanical Garden, there will be many public events for which – as always – members will enjoy special discounts. We nonetheless ask you that during the days in which activities such as festivals, concerts, etc. take place, you should pay the amount requested in the Visitor’s Center (with the respective discount) even if you do not attend the event taking place on that day at the Charco. Likewise we remind you that during those days, only the membership holder plus two guests can enter using the discount. We are unable to extend the discount to more guests. We appreciate your understanding and support.



Friday, February 18 | 6p.m. |
Plaza of 4 Winds | members free, 30pesos 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, February 19 |  10a.m.
Sunday, February 20 | 10a.m.
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, or in the Botanical Garden visitor’s center



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

This is a wonderful time of year to observe the migratory birds which visit the Botanical Garden each year as they start to feel the cool weather up north.  You, too, can enjoy the sunny paths and pleasant, energizing walks.

visitas guidas


Every first and third Wednesday of the month, 9 am – 11:30 a.m.
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. Your guide will meet you after you pass through the Reception area of the Botanical Garden.

anas discors



This month you can see various photographs of the plant known as the “tree of wonders”, that is, the maguey, by Alejandro Contreras, which were exhibited during the First Festival of Maguey.

In our cafeteria you can have a delicious coffee, tea or hot chocolate with the new almond vegetable crackers Pia Vegana. These are delicious home-made crackers without any animal derivatives (milk, eggs or butter). As you can see, the Charco is always seeking ways to offer very healthy food.

tienda y cafeteria



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