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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

April 2010 - Volume V, No. 4

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.

Second EXHIBITION of REPTILES - March 27-April 25

Course on Handling Reptiles - Friday, April 2 and Friday, April 9

El Charco canyon hike - Saturday, April 17

Garden Lecture Series: A Good Planet is Hard to Find - Friday, April 23

EARTH DAY Celebration - Thursday through Saturday, April 22-24

Temazcal - Saturday, April 17, 10:00 am

Full Moon Ceremony - Wednesday, April 28th

Bird Watching tours - First and third Wednesday of the month

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays


March 27 – April 25  |  $50 pesos general admission, $30 pesos residents of San Miguel with electoral Identification, $20 pesos children  |  Botanical Garden Boveda

expo reptiles

On March 27 we inaugurated our second exhibition of reptiles and amphibians, made of up live specimens of the primary species of our region and of Mexico, which are part of the Herpetarium of the Department of Natural Sciences of the Autonomous University of Queretaro. Among the more than 50 species exhibited, one can observe salamanders, crocodiles, turtles, snakes and other animals. The exhibition is complemented by educational talks for children and adults, given by staff trained at the University of Queretaro at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

expo reptiles

Course on the handling of reptiles in captivity

Theoretical-practical session, 4 hours |  2 and 9 de abril  | 10 am |  $250 pesos

  1. Theory: brief introduction to Mexican reptiles: includes techniques for handling reptiles as well as general information about venom and what to do in case of incidents

  2. Practice: handling of inoffensive animals; handling of poisonous animals will be dealt with only with demonstrations.

Reservations at 154-4715 or

handling reptiles

Consequence of the February rains: good news and bad news

The good news: After the intense and unaccustomed rains of February, the Las Colonias Reservoir is almost full – in the month of April! - for the first time in many years (those of us at El Charco have never seen this before). This is something totally unusual and has surprised all of us – including the ducks, aquatic birds and the rest of the wildlife of the wetland, which have altered some of their living and eating patterns. The abundance of water and humidity has also favored a series of changes throughout the reserve in the life-cycle of plants, in terms of the early foliage and flowering of various species, with consequences throughout the whole ecosystem. In such an interesting and unusual context, we are very sorry that our dear, studious friend of El Charco, naturalist Walter L. Meagher, is not able to be here these days in San Miguel …

The bad news: For the first time since we installed it in 2001, the protective railing on the dam of the reservoir was knocked over by the large flow of water. The water dragged stubble from the surrounding fields in such quantities that the raining could not withstand the force of the current filled with plant debris. We are currently replacing the railing in order to provide security for our visitors. We appreciate your understanding.

consequences of Feb rains

consequences of Feb rains


Starting work on the Interactive Garden

After months of plans and proposals, we have finally begun the construction of the Earth Garden, a new interactive space in the Charco del Ingenio, located a few steps from the main entrance. As we have described in previous issues of this newsletter, it is a space designed to attract boys and girls, as well as young families, through a series of educational and recreational modules.

jardin de la tierra croquis

The creation of the Earth Garden will be financed in its totality by Save the Laja, Inc., created by Susan Porter Smith in the 1990s and in whose memory this new attraction in the Botanical Garden will be dedicated. The economic support also includes the construction of a large cistern for the capture and storage of rainwater, which will guarantee availability of water for the conservation projects. During the month of February, Betsy January, Susan Hughes,Tatiana Walker y Sallie Rhyne, members of the Board of Directors of the foundation visited the Botanical Garden for the purpose of finalizing the economic support and to bring their ideas and visions for the new interactive space.

jardin de la tierra



EARTH DAY Celebration, April 22-24

El Charco el Ingenio invites you to sign the Letter to the Earth and participate in the following activities:

Consciousness-raising hike: covering flora, fauna, consequences of deforestation and pollution, as well as alternative solutions to those problems. The hike will take place in the facilities of El Charco and Parque Landeta in collaboration with PEASMA and UNAM.

Interactive art: with the installation of a gigantic nest, under the supervision of sculptor Agnes Olive and our creative Hermes Arroyo. The inauguration will take place on Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m.. Come and plant your seed of intention for a better planet.


earth day


Birds and Bugs of El Charco

Thanks to the intensive and patient work over years done by our friends and collaborators Susan and Wayne Coloy, we now have updated lists of resident and migratory birds of El Charco del Ingenio (156 species), as well as various families of insects, such as dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. Those lists are posted in our web site, in the section dedicated to Biodiversity in the reserve.

In addition to doing the painstaking field work of observing and identifying species, Susan and Wayne photographed almost all the species and have prepared the photos for the web site, linked to the lists of birds and dragon/damselflies (the list of butterflies will be posted in the near future). Just click on the name of the species in the list and a beautiful image will appear on your screen. Try it and be surprised not only by the diversity of fauna in El Charco, but also because of the high quality of the photographic images:

bird foto




Garden Lecture Series: A good planet is hard to find

Friday April 23 | $100 pesos general admission, members $70 pesos | 10 am

On Friday April 23rd at 10am, Phyllis Pitluga, Astronomer Emerita at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and a resident of San Miguel, will be making a fully illustrated presentation titled “A Good Planet is Hard to Find.” It is the story of life on Earth and the search for life elsewhere. Get up-to-date on our planet and its neighbors in our Solar System and our Milky Way Galaxy.



El Charco canyon hikes

Cost $150 pesos general admission, $120 pesos members (includes beverage) | Saturday April 17 . Meet in the parking lot of the Fabrica la Aurora at 9 am. Reservations required, 154-4715 or

charco canyon   The canyon of El Charco del Ingenio has always been a place of magic and mysticism, a source of ancient legends.  Its nooks and crannies hide secrets of the past, guarded by nature.  The Obraje river flows through it and the pool and spring from which the Garden gets its name is nestled there. To reveal its beauty and mystery, the Botanical Garden will offer special hikes in the canyon.  This 3 hour hike will start at the Fabrica Aurora and twine through steep crags and cliffs to the pool of El Chan, at which point the group will climb up and continue on to the Café of the Garden for a delicious and well deserved lunch.  This is a rigorous hike and requires excellent physical fitness.
painting by Keith Miller


Cycle of Yoga classes
in El Charco Boveda ends

The yoga sessions that have taken place for almost two years on Mondays and Wednesdays in the Boveda of the Botanical Garden, conducted in an inspired and enthusiastic manner by the teacher Ximena Velasco, have concluded.

The intensity and variety of activities in the Boveda and the starting of the work of construction of the interactive garden have made it difficult to continue the yoga classes, which we regret. In the future, we hope to have appropriate facilities for this type of activities.

Thank you, Ximena, for your presence in El Charco … Namaste.



Celebration of the Spring Equinox

This past March 20 there were about 300 people who took part in the Spring Equinox ceremony in the Plaza de los Cuatro Vientos, as well as enjoy the concert in the Charco canyon. Hollving Argaez, who has had a long career playing the sitar – in India as well as in Mexico – delighted the audience of the concert of three ragas, accompanied by tabla and tenpura instruments. We thank all the participants for celebrating the beginning of spring with us.

spring equinox ceremony



Mochilazo Campaign

In an effort to publicize the work done by the Charco and to invite more people to enjoy this natural reserve, we have initiated a promotional campaign in collaboration with the eco-tourism company Mochilazo. The campaign will include placing an information kiosk with Botanical Garden brochures in various corporate businesses in Mexico City and the metropolitan area.

The kiosk will be placed in four different businesses each month, offering to employees information and advertisements to visit El Charco.



Volunteers from the Bimbo company

On March 21, a campaign for cleaning and pruning mesquite and huizache trees took place in the Charco del Ingenio reserve. About 85 people, adults and children, sponsored by the Bimbo company through the program “Limpiemos Mexico” (We clean Mexico), came in the early hours of the day to the Garden to receive training, with special attention to the removal of a common tree week called paixtle. Paixtle is a small air-plant that is not exactly parasitic but does affect the development and survival of trees in the region.  The volunteers managed to gather about 250 kilos of paixtle, cleaning four mesquites and eight huizaches. The trees now look clean and healthy, which guarantees a longer life and a better functioning within the ecosystem for the benefit of the whole population.

bimbo volunteers


Get to know the Charco team – Serafin Gonzales Velazquez

Serafin is a young worker originally from the municipality of Tierra Blanca, Guanajuato, who has worked with us for nearly seven years. His work has focused on security and maintenance of different zones of the Garden. He is currently employed as assistant in the area of propagation and the botanical collection, where he has shown great interest and talent for managing succulent plants.





New person in charge of the store and reception -
Mariana Gonzales Gallegos

Mariana came to the Botanical Garden a while ago as a very young woman doing her Social Service with us (this is a college requirement in Mexico).

She is a native of the Valle del Maiz and perhaps because it is so close, she always came to walk in El Charco. Now Mariana is our new face in the Store-Reception. She is a pro-active person, service-oriented, responsible and always with a smile on her lips.

The next time you visit us, ask Mariana about the promotions we have, she will be a big help to you


A great job by a volunteer –
Norman Besman

Norman has done an important volunteer job in El Charco, providing guided tours every Tuesday and Thursday, which are very well-attended. His knowledge and experience about birds in El Charco is enlarged and broadened by his sensibility to the local culture, and his interest in interaction with the natural resources of the region. Thank you very much, Norman!

norman besman

New workshop – Temazcal

Saturday April 17 | 4 pm - 10 pm | $500 pesos | Limited to 16 people, reservations required, 154.88.38 y 154.4715 or in the Visitor’s Center of the Jardín Botánico.

The word “temazcal” comes from the Nahuatl word TEMAZCALLI which means “house of steam” (temaz=steam and calli=house). To participate in a temazcal is an invaluable way to be contact with ancient purification practices; in addition, it provides many benefits for our organism.

This month we offer this new workshop, given by the temazcal leader Dayana Paz, with the following program: the initial ceremony, “burning of the canoe,” return to the maternal womb, prana rehabilitation, energy curing, chkung yoga practice and the temazcalli ceremony.

Material required: loose clothing, towel, sandals, bathing suit, quartzes, yoga mat, freedom and a smile.



Full Moon Ceremony

Wednesday, April 28 | 7 pm | Plaza de los Cuatro vientos |
Admission $30 pesos, members free

We invite everyone to this open celebration that, for several years now, has taken place at the beginning of every lunar cycle in the Plaza of the Four Winds of the Botanical Garden, conducted by the always inspired Alicia Mayo. It is worth arriving a little early to admire, between the mountains of the horizon, the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon at the same time. We recommend that you come with a wrap. Bring a musical instrument if you wish. Information: Alicia Mayo, tel 152-0376.

full moon



Guided tours of
El Charco
del Ingenio

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am in English

Duration: approximately 2 hours  |  Cost $80 pesos, members $50- With the arrival of spring, we invite you to take a walk in the Charco to see how everything is blooming, to visit the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, the wildlife, the canyon of the Charco del Ingenio, the archeological remains, and more.


Bird-watching tours

First and third Wednesday of each month, 9 am – 11:30 am, guided by Signe Hammer.

Spring is here! The Ruddy Ducks are molting into breeding plumage--look for their light-blue bills and ruddy flanks, and watch them bob their heads as they court the females.

ruddy duck

The Grebes have returned--will they breed again this year, with the presa in high water? On shore, the Mockingbirds are competing with singing and flight displays. You might be hearing a Northern Cardinal or a Curve-billed Thrasher--but listen closely and you'll find the Mockingbird has appropriated their calls. Never mind--the other day a Curve-billed Thrasher was mimicking a Great-tailed Grackle. Everyone's singing--it's spring!
Cost: $100 pesos general, $60 pesos members of El Charco del Ingenio and Audubon Society.


Visit the store and cafeteria of El Charco

After a pleasant walk through the Botanical Garden, the cafeteria of El Charco offers a variety of delicious plates and refreshing drinks. Don’t miss it, and the opportunity to buy a souvenir in the store.




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