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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

January 2010 - Volume V, No. 1

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.

Saturday January 2 and Sunday January 3
Saturday, January 30 and Sunday January 31

2010 Environmental Fair planning meeting - Friday, January 15

Dog Park meeting at El Charco - Monday, January 25

Garden Lecture Series: Meet the President - Wednesday, January 27

Full Moon Ceremony - Saturday, January 30

Art & Antiques Appraisal: Fabrica Aurora - Saturday, Feb 13

Aves y Agaves: Audubon-El Charco Joint Fundraiser Auction - Sunday, Feb 14

Botanical Illustration Classes
Illustration in Colored Pencil: Feb 27-March 5
Botany for Illustrators, Gardeners, & Amateur Botanists: March 1-5
Succulent! Capturing Cacti in Colored Pencil:
March 8-12

Bird Walks - First and third Wednesday of the month

Yoga at El Charco - Mondays and Wednesdays

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

One Year Finishes and Another Begins….

2009 was a stable year for El Charco with small, modest infrastructure works and with good accomplishments in the area of conservation. Much of the work was not noteworthy but necessary especially in the areas of maintenance of the perimeter fences and firewalls and most importantly in the difficult and daily job of surveillance by our staff without which El Charco simply would not be viable or sustainable.  El Charco was not too adversely affected by the global economic crisis and H1N1 flu.  Although we had fewer visitors and a decrease in income, our bottom line still finished positively.  The work was financed by our own income, donations from residents and friends of El Charco as well as other organizations, and we owe a big thank you to everyone.

mapa El Charco del Ingenio

Let’s see what 2010 may bring. On the one hand, because of the Bicentennial we are expecting more visitors and are already preparing for this eventuality.  We also have to expect some negative effects on tourism due to difficult situations at the national level which can’t be ignored.  Much of our work in 2010 will be dedicated to maintaining the trails, fences, signage, firewalls, plazas, etc. 

Our major new, exciting project for 2010-2011 will be the building of an original interactive space called Jardin de la Tierra located near the entrance and dedicated to the children and youth of San Miguel.  Before work on this project can begin, we will bury or relocate the electrical wires that are in the way and mar the beauty of the reserve.  This will all be possible through personal and institutional donations in conjunction with our own income.
Finally, defending the Ecological Buffer Zone will continue to be a priority.
We wish all our members, friends and visitors a healthy and peaceful New Year


charco and audubon

Green Benefit :  Aves y Agaves
Audubon-El Charco Joint Fundraiser Auction
Sunday, Feb 14, 12–3 pm, Plaza de los Cuatro Vientos
El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden

350 pesos members, 500 pesos nonmembers

This second annual joint fundraiser will be held under a spacious circular tent near the Plaza of Four Winds. Enjoy the beautiful setting and delicious food and drinks provided by Bobo Gourmet.  Last year’s event was sold out well in advance. This year, Mark Vail, a professional auctioneer from New York will provide a fast-paced live auction of over 50 specially created art objects by San Miguel’s talented artists, designers and architects (see  

aves y agaves  

The theme, “Aves y Agaves,” perfectly captures the occasion: birds are a key focus of Audubon’s activities, and agaves are one of the many families of succulent plants (including cacti) protected, propagated and grown in El Charco’s botanical garden. After expenses, all funds raised by the event will go to support the important work of these two organizations to protect the natural environment, educate people about it, provide nature and wildlife experiences for adults and children, and act as advocates for the environment, working with government at all levels. 

Don’t wait—seating for the auction is limited! Only 300 tickets will be sold, at Border Crossings, El Tecolote Bookstore, Bobo Gourmet and El Charco del Ingenio Visitors’ Center, or contact Linda Whynman,, or Naomi Zerreffi,  If you buy 10 or more tickets, we will reserve seats for you and your guests

Art & Antiques Appraisal by Mark Vail
Sat, Feb 13, 12-3p.m.  Main Terrace, Fabrica Aurora

100 pesos at the door for two items. On Saturday, Mark Vail and Mort Erlick, a well-known local resident knowledgeable about Mexican antiques and folk art, will appraise your heirlooms and collectibles in an “Antiques Roadshow” style event at Fabrica Aurora. Proceeds to El Charco del Ingenio.




The classes in December received rave reviews from participants. These classes count towards a certificate from the Denver Garden.  Class size is limited so please register for any of the following classes by February 5th by emailing for the form and materials list.

Illustration in Colored Pencil: Feb 27-March 5 from 9-noon,
Instructor: Susan Rubin
Colored pencils are perfect for sketching on location as well as producing studio pieces. Learn the components of a color, apply layers, use skills such as building, blending and burnishing.

Botany for Illustrators, Gardeners, & Amateur Botanists: March 1-5 from 1-4p.m.
Instructor: Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski
An enlightening lab class designed specifically for students of Botanical Illustration and amateur botanists who would like to understand better what they see. Study plant morphology and learn to observe plant anatomy and recognize botanical details that will make your drawings more accurate and realistic.   

Succulent! Capturing Cacti in Colored Pencil: March 8-12 from 9-1p.m.
Instructor: Susan Rubin

Learn about the botanical attributes that make succulents unique in the plant world.  Draw and observe cacti and succulents in the gardens using a variety of techniques to record size, form, color, and details.  Hone your skills with lessons that target techniques to portray needles, spines and ridges, as well as the smooth flesh of succulents.

botanical illustration
drawings by Susan Rubin

Friday, January 15, 10 am
Botanical Garden Dome (Bóveda) 

The Municipal Ecology Department invites all local environmental organizations to a planning meeting for the first Environmental Fair in the municipality. The Fair is a space for community participation and the proposal of alternatives to protect our natural resources and improve the relationship between human beings and our environment.
Please confirm no later than Tuesday, January 12 to



Cesar Arias  

Garden Lecture Series

MEET THE PRESIDENT and learn more about El Charco and Parque Landeta.  The President and Founder of the Botanical Garden, Cesar Arias de la Canal, will speak on Wednesday, January 27th at 10:00a.m. in the Boveda. 

ave you noticed the construction going on in Parque Landeta? Find out about UNAM’s project for a research center there as well as the operation of the water treatment plant and get answers to any questions you may have about El Charco. Reserve a space at

Members 70pesos, general public 100pesos.



El Charco Calendar 2010

This calendar contains reproductions of 12 oil paintings by the international artist, L. Sabrina Gaydos, which show examples of both rescued cacti and others from the land inside the Garden.

Sabrina dedicates this calendar to a great teacher, botanist and friend, Roy Turner, who enthusiastically introduced her to El Charco from which the inspiration came for this project.  The calendars are available at the Gift Shop at El Charco as well as at Tecolote on Jesus and Border Crossing (Mesones/Relox).

The original oil paintings shown in the calendar may be purchased directly from the artist by contacting her at






Dog Park meeting at El Charco
Monday, January 25, 10 a.m. in the Boveda

As of October 2009 dogs and other pets are no longer permitted inside the Botanical Garden. However, it has come to our attention that many people in San Miguel are interested in organizing a dog park and the Board of El Charco is interested in discussing the possibility of dedicating a specific, limited zone for this purpose inside the reserve. 

We invite those who are interested in this proposal to an open meeting on Monday, January 25th at 10:00a.m. in the Boveda.  If you are able to attend or would like to be informed of the results, please email



Activities in December

About 200 people enjoyed the astronomy event called Celestial Lights in El Charco on December 13th.  With three professional telescopes available, those who attended could observe from the Plaza of Four Winds planets such as Jupiter with its five moons, Mercury, the Milky Way, and an exceptional meteorite shower. Excellent explanations in Spanish and English made the evening more meaningful. Children were able to ask experts many questions and receive simple and full answers. We particularly want to thank Phyllis Pitluga and Rodrigo Trevino for their enthusiastic assistance.

winter solstice   The Winter Solstice weekend events were also well attended on the 19, 20 and 21st.  There were ceremonies, musical events, exhibitions, lectures and workshops as well as sweat lodges (temascales) and traditional healing practices.  The events culminated during the winter solstice with a moving ceremony in the Plaza of Four Winds and a concert/meditation in the Boveda using pre-hispanic instruments.  Many thanks for the hard work of the organizers, Alicia Mayo, Graciela Cruz y Alina Monterrubio, and their assistants.

winter solstice


El Charco in the New York Times

On December 27th, the New York Times published an article recommending the best places to enjoy in San Miguel during a weekend.  Deservedly, the Botanical Garden was mentioned as an ideal option for nature lovers to spend an agreeable afternoon on its trails surrounded by semi-arid vegetation, visit the Conservatory of Mexican plants or simply observe birds.  The link to the entire article :



Felix Diaz  

Get to Know Our Staff

This month we introduce Felix Diaz Diaz, affectionately known as “el gato” (the cat) for his deep green eyes. Originally from Los Tovares, a ranch west of town, Felix has worked as gardener and in other capacities for the last 10 years.

Currently he is mostly occupied with the water treatment plant in Parque Landeta where he is responsible for the plants which will be filtering the water.  Felix is a responsible person, dedicated to the conservation project and his patience and kindness are appreciated by all in El Charco.


El Charco is on Facebook!

As part of our new PR strategy, we have entered the extensive global communication network of Facebook. 

Add us to your list, leave a message or comment, send your photos of El Charco, check out our actitivites and present us to your friends.  Look for us at “Charco del Ingenio” or through




Guided Tours in English

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10a.m.-12:30p.m.
A hat, water and good walking shoes are recommended. 50 pesos for members and 80 pesos for non-members. Private tours are also available for 150 pesos per person (minimum 5 persons). Reservations are not necessary. 




January 6 and 20th -  starting at 9:00a.m.

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

Cost: 50 pesos for members of either El Charco or Audubon, 80 pesos for non-members of either organization (includes El Charco entrance fee).



FIND ME! by Walter L. Meagher

There is one Anisacanthus by the path from La Tienda to the Conservatory, easy to find; there is another, more concealed, near the canyon rim. I like Anisacanthus that lives out of the way, hermetically, its bright flowers borne on stems without leaves in January (from Janus, the Roman god who presided over beginnings …), giving hope for a season of flowers to come: early spring, then full spring, then summer. In this sense, Anisacanthus is a herald.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

photo by Wayne Colony


Saturday, January 2 and Sunday, January 3 at 10:00a.m
Saturday, January 30 and Sunday January 31 at 10:00a.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 or in El Charco’s main office.



Yoga “Desde el corazón” (from the Heart)
in el  Charco del Ingenio

Mon & Wed 10-11:15

Cost 100 pesos per class, Monthly package (8 classes)  680 pesos
For more information or to reserve a space, please contact Juan Manuel: Tel 154-4715.
Need to bring yoga mat and blanket


Enjoy a wonderful yoga experience in a perfect setting.  Those who are familiar with this ecological site know that the experience starts at the entrance, its beauty immediately filling our senses.  The harmony, silence, peace, clean air, plants and animals make this place a fountain of inspiration in which to practice yoga in San Miguel.  El Charco del Ingenio offers a perfect mix that invites our senses to open up to the natural beauty around us and within us.

Ximena Velasco has practised yoga for 11 years and for the last 10 years has shared her passion for this philosphy-discipline through her classes.  She has studied in various countries such as France; Italy, India, Nepal, Australia, Mexico and the US among others.  She has explored various yoga techniques such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusara, y Vinyasa.  Her passion to understand the human body has led her to investigate other techniques of movement, meditation and alternative medicine to bring the necessary tools that her students need. Ximena teaches in several places in San Miguel.

Yoga, as other ancient philosophy-disciplines in the world, is inspired by nature, learning to observe, hear, feel and imitate.  This work allows us to observe, hear and feel ourselves, connecting us to our inner nature. If you are a lover of nature and yoga, this is a worthwhile experience whether you are a resident or visitor.


Saturday, January 30 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.

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.  Admission is 30 pesos, free for members. Children welcome. Any questions, call Alicia Mayo at 152 -0376.


The Gift Shop and Café

Consider doing your gift shopping this year at our gift shop where there is something for family and friends of all ages that you won’t find anywhere else, including our beautiful 2010 calendar with paintings by Sabrina Gaydos.  There are books, jewelry, t-shirts, lavender soaps, photos, instruments and much more.


You can make a difference

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.” 




agave  garambullo  pajaros  nopales  bisnaga

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