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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

July, 2008 - Volume III, No. 7

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.

Audubon Supports the Bird Sanctuary

The Audubon Society of San Miguel has offered financial support to our association to help condition the bird observation areas on both sides of the wetland in the Botanical Garden as well as in Parque Landeta.

This support completes the environmental restoration work of the Presa de las Colonias, financed by Save the Laja Foundation since 2006, with the idea of creating and increasing habitats for waterfowl. On June 25, Linda Whynman, President of Audubon, and members of their Board of Directors gave a check for 40,000 pesos to El Charco’s Board, to be used for

  1. landscaping of the new islands and banks of the Presa

  2. planting of trees and shrubs to create windows for observing birds and the landscape

  3. reinforcing with stone the banks most vulnerable to erosion.
left to right: Bob Haas, Linda Whynman, Mario Mendoza, Leigh Gersnoviez

We thank Timoteo Wachter for his generous collaboration with the landscape design of the wetland and Luis Franke, who offered trees from his nursery and ideas concerning the planting of these trees.

This restoration project is a good example of how non-profit organizations and individuals can work together towards the common goal of environmental conservation.


Santa Cruz Fiesta:
Sunday, July 13th starting at noon, entrance free

Since its beginnings in 1991, this celebration is held every year in July to commemorate the foundation of the garden as well the rescue of this magnificent ravine – a rescue that not only dedicates El Charco as an ecological reserve but also as a ritual space for local indigenous communities of San Miguel, and the image of the Cross which goes back to the wars of Conquest of the 16th century and the foundation of our city. As such, Charco del Ingenio is a sacred territory for the communities of the Santa Cruz, urban as well as rural, who come to the annual festival. 

The ceremony starts in the Plaza of the Four Winds and the cross is carried to the four cardinal points of the botanical garden where the protective shrines are located.  It finishes with the installation of the cross in Parque Landeta where the fiesta continues all day with ritual dances, music and more.

fiesta de la santa cruz

Garden Lecture Series: ***HIGHLY RECOMMENDED***
July 17th at 9:30a.m.

A lecture, in English with a slide show by Wayne Colony, a retired geologist living in San Miguel, who has been studying the geology of El Charco for the last several years.   Wayne has also participated in the latest scientific research about wildlife in the area and will share his beautiful photos.  This presentation was completely sold out last June so reserve early by emailing:, General 100 pesos, members 70 pesos. Meet at El Charco’s visitor reception area by 9:20a.m.

geology lecture

Summer Camp at El Charco

After a successful science camp last year (which will take place this year in the Public Library with field trips to El Charco), this July we will have summer camp with a different approach, more artistic and recreational with many activities and workshops such as caring for the plants in the nursery, observation of wildlife, creating natural and folk art, rock climbing, scoutcraft and knot-tying, and a course in first aid. The Camp will be held for three weeks from July 6-29 under the experienced leadership of Hermes Arroyo and Jesus Bautista.  It will be in Spanish.

curso de verano
Monday to Friday from 9a.m. to 2p.m.
Girls and boys from 6 to 11 years old.
Cost: 1,500 pesos.

More information at the Visitor’s Center at El Charco or call 415 154-8838 or 154-4715 or email

Cactus research

After several months of work, we have results from our collaboration agreement with UNAH (National Agronomy University of Havana) and ITESI (Institute of Technology of Irapuato) made at the beginning of the year.

semillas   A protocol has been developed for the propagation in vitro of two of the three species of cacti included in the agreement: Aztekium hintonii and Geohintonia mexicana, and work is continuing to find a protocol for the germination of Aztekium ritteri. In a few more months, we will be ready to offer to the public specimens of these two species, which we hope will relieve the pressure upon their natural populations.

Guided Tours

Every Tuesday morning discover the marvels of cacti and other Mexican plants as well as the history of El Charco through a guided tour in English. Entrance fee is 30 pesos (waived for members) and the tour is 50 pesos.  All proceeds benefit the garden. The tour starts at the main entrance at 9:00a.m. and lasts about 2.5 hours. Bring a hat and water. Space is limited, so reserve by calling 154-8838 or email

How Butterflies Defend Themselves
article by Walter Meagher, photos by Wayne Colony


Butterflies seem defenseless, too vulnerable for their own good, giving short lives to ornament gardens.  But if they elude the camera, if they don’t hold still long enough for us to read their name tags, they must be able to elude a bird. The erratic pattern of flight is a defensive strategy.  How can a bird, even one as maneuverable as a fighter plane, move fast enough to catch a weaving wandering butterfly?  Consider the Gray Hairstreak, seen in El Charco.  Small, yes; but also its flight pattern is fast and erratic….

To read the complete text and see more photos, click here

Recent Publication

Wild and Wonderful: Nature Up Close at El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden. Text by Walter Meagher and photographs by Wayne Colony. Foreward by E.O. Wilson. 300 pesos. On sale at the Botanical Garden gift shop and bookstores in San Miguel. This book is being highly praised by all who have read it. A must have.

Artists for El Charco

Pedro Friedeberg, well known Mexican artist who has exhibited internationally, lived in San Miguel between 1990 and 2000.  In 1994, the artist offered the budding botanical garden a series of illustrations based on the distinctive flora and fauna of El Charco.

pedro friedeberg

El Charco Gift Shop

Have you visited the new gift shop at El Charco? We recommend that you stop by to see a series of new products at the Botanical Garden. And don't miss the juice bar and cafeteria next to the Visitors Center of the Botanical Garden.

Friday, July 18th at sunset

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.

It’s worth arriving a little early to admire the setting of the sun and the appearance of the moon over the mountains. We recommend bringing a coat and a musical instrument if you wish. Admission is 30 pesos, free for members.

Friday, July 18th at 8pm and
Sunday, July 20th at 10a.m.

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

New Membership Fees

Starting July 1st the fee has gone from 500 to 600 pesos for annual membership.  This source of income is important for El Charco and is a way of contributing to the future of our project.  Benefits to the member include:

  1. unlimited access for the card holder and 2 other people,
  2. discounts at concerts and other activities,
  3. subscription to this electronic newsletter, and
  4. opportunities to volunteer and participate in our work.

We thank you for your understanding and support.

You can make a difference - Please volunteer

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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