Botanical Illustration Workshops

Partnership with El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden in Mexico

Denver Botanic Gardens’ School of Botanical Art and Illustration has partnered with El Charco del Ingenio nature reserve and botanical garden in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico since 2009.  El Charco del Ingenio, situated near the UNESCO world heritage site of San Miguel de Allende, is dedicated to the restoration and conservation of native ecosystems and biodiversity and spans more than 180 hectares (445 acres).

The garden holds the second largest living collection of cacti and other succulents in Mexico, many of which are rare or in danger of extinction. In addition to being exhibited in different areas in the garden, the collection also serves as a genetic back-up for these at-risk species. The Mexican environmental agency (SEMARNAT) has recognized El Charco del Ingenio as the legal depository for the collection.

El Charco del Ingenio is also an historically important location that is home to pre-Columbian stone tools and ruins of post-Colonial hydraulic works. The remains of a 16th century watermill in the upper part of El Charco canyon can still be seen among the vegetation.

Mexico has few opportunities for formal training in scientific illustration and our illustration courses attract students from all over the country, including both expatriate artists and illustrators from the Mexican science community. Course offerings respond to the local environment and needs, yet classes are part of the School’s curriculum so students from Colorado do travel to San Miguel to take specialty classes on succulents, butterflies or birds.

In 2016, El Charco celebrated its 25th anniversary and continues thriving as a community gathering space with historical and spiritual significance. It offers many educational and recreational activities for all sectors of society including the study and conservation of biological diversity and environmental education. The garden continues to work to reserve a wide area around the sanctuary as an Ecological Preservation Zone and to rescue the El Charco canyon which is threatened by the fast-paced urban expansion of San Miguel.

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