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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

February, 2008 - Volume 3, No. 2

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility. Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.

Charco del Ingenio
Work Plan
for 2008

Based on the available funding for the Garden this year, work will consist of simple and efficient tasks. Some infrastructure work that cannot be postponed will take place during the beginning months of this year, such as reopening the store and finishing the bathrooms near the Conservatory, the creation of a multiple use space in the boveda in front of the Four Winds Plaza, and the installation of handrails in the look-out section of the canon. Maintenance work will center around the paths and trails for the safety and enjoyment of our visitors.


Two new gardens will be built at El Charco, one celebrating the diversity of Mexican nopales (Opuntia genus), and another which will be part of the scenic landscape consisting of column cacti known as “organos”. Some work will be carried out in the wetlands area, on the islands and shores of the presa, such as the plantation at the water treatment plant in Parque Landeta. The botanical collection will be increased and enriched by gatherings in the countryside and by exchanges with other national botanical gardens.Environmental education will be a priority for the Garden starting this year, creating a new and suitable long-term program in conjunction with PEASMA.Simultaneously, the association will continue the legal defense of El Charco, including its buffer zone and Parque Landeta, with the goal of containing as much as possible the impact of urban expansion in the ecological buffer zone.

And the Water Treatment Plant in Parque Landeta??

Many people have asked why the work has stopped. What is this sea of stones doing there? When will it be up and running?

Let’s remember … having a constructed wetland with a submerged bed was the initiative of various non-profits in the city starting seven years ago ... before the need to clean a polluted discharge of 5 liters/second in the watershed where El Charco is located, as well as the town of San Miguel. The initiative took form during a session between the city, the Institute of Ecology of Guanajuato and the State Water Commission, in which the project for the plant was set out. Construction started in June 2006, but some errors in design and work in progress caused the stoppage – still in effect. The most serious of the defects was the type of stone put into the bed of the plant, which would prohibit the establishment of the wetland plants.

water treatment

water treatment

It was necessary for the Botanical Garden to submit recommendations by various experts for the Water Commission to agree to rectify the errors and especially to commit to replacing part of the stones with a finer layer appropriate for plantings. Work has started once again and we hope the constructed wetland plant will be operational in the Spring of 2008. Amen!


As in the past, the Botanical Garden will participate in this popular ornamental plant fair which is being held in Parque Juarez this year. We will have an information table about our conservation project. Come by and visit from January 31st to February 12th and perhaps bring a friend who might want to become a member or a volunteer in El Charco.


Wild and Wonderful: Nature Up Close in El Charco

The lecture series based on the forthcoming book of the same title,continues this month with 2 presentations.

The first one is on Thursday February 14th with botanist Walter Meagher doing a talk/walk on Cactus Strategies. The over-riding strategy of the lives of cacti is to reduce the need for and waste of water. They grow where it is dry, where the land is shallow, where there is hardship. We will see their flowers in a slideshow and also can see some of the 21 species growing near the lecture hall at the Charco.



The second presentation is on Thursday February 28th with Susan Colony about our winter visitors on the presa. Each winter at least 20 species of ducks and shorebirds, some in great numbers, return to San Miguel. Although the presa is a relatively small body of water in the middle of Mexico, it seems to provide everything these birds need for a rejuvenating winter stay. In the slideshow part of the presentation, the photos will present these birds close-up in their gorgeous colors and, often, exotic beauty. Then, a short walk to the presa will provide an opportunity to see them in their natural setting.

black headed stilt  

northern shoveler

Above: Northern Shoveler
Left: Black-headed stilt

Both lectures will start at 9:30 promptly in the library at the botanical garden. The first part will last about one hour and the walk part about 30-45minutes. Cost is 70 pesos for members of El Charco and 100 pesos for non-members. Reservations required: email to save a space.

Pre-Publication Opportunity for Members: The above-mentioned book, Wild and Wonderful: Nature Up Close in El Charco, will be available mid-March. Sample chapters can be viewed at the reception area. We are offering the book at a special price of $20.00US or 220 pesosto members only during the month of February and until publication mid-March. After that, it will go on sale for $26.50US or 290 pesos. Please see Angelina, manager of the store, to place your order.

Total Lunar Eclipse – Wednesday, February 20th


We will have an excellent opportunity in San Miguel to view this eclipse since the initial phase will start after moonrise. As in the past for this sort of astronomical phenomenon, the botanical garden will remain open to the public in the evening. We can meet at the Four Winds Plaza around a fire to have hot punch and for the youngsters we have prepared an interesting educational show about the eclipse beginning at 6:30p.m. At the same time, for those who are interested in participating, there will be a full moon ceremony. We suggest you dress warmly and if you have a telescope or binoculars, this would be a good time to dust them off and bring along. General admission for this event is 10 pesos, free for children and members of the botanical garden.

The New Store at El Charco

The store will reopen this month, offering new and interesting products to our visitors.  We also expect it to be an additional source of income for El Charco. See you there!

Conservatory of Plants

In view of the fact that we have a growing number of visitors to the permanent display of Mexican plants in the garden, starting this month the Conservatory will be open one hour more. Now you can visit the Conservatory from 9a.m. to 5p.m. every day of the year. While you’re there, don’t overlook the beautiful bronze sculptures in the small pools of water.




Photos: Patricia Lagarde. Ed. Santillana

In Memory
of Charles Glass

charlie glass

This month is the 10th anniversary of the passing of this close friend, world renowned cactologist and creator of the collection of our botanical garden.

Charlie Glass's passion for Mexico – its people, culture and plants – took him throughout the Republic over the years, into the deepest places, always marveling at the richness of its cacti and other botanical families little studied. He arrived in San Miguel in 1991 when the botanical garden was just a flower starting to open hesitantly. But Charlie, without any hesitation, integrated himself into this little group and its dream. Then started years of friendship, adventure, collecting, teaching and traveling the country he knew and loved so well until one of the most complete collections of cacti and succulents in Mexico took shape. He was always a strong defender of our enormous natural heritage and confronted with courage the ignorance and corruption that threatens and destroys it. In 1998, a few months after the terrible frost that decimated much of El Charco’s botanical collection, broken-hearted, Charlie left us. At the 10th anniversary of his passing, we remember him with much affection and gratitude.

Saturday, February 22nd  and
Sunday, February 23rd  at 10am

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

temazcal interior

You can make a difference

And you can make a difference with your donations. We appreciate your support!! Please contact Naomi at

E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor at




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