Each year, I plant amaryllis bulbs for the holidays. I plant them for my house and for gifts. The recipients of these gifts vary, but their reaction to these gifts do not. All—family, friends, teachers, co-workers—who receive one of these dramatic plants are delighted and curious. There is something magical about a flower growing in the middle of winter. And there is something amazing about a large flower that grows quickly. The plant changes every day—shoots emerge from the bulb, sometimes growing many inches in a day, then form buds that open into beautiful trumpets. All this happens in as little as 4 weeks.

I have given amaryllis to teachers who instantly turn their presence in the classroom into a math lesson: Find a ruler, let's measure its growth. When I brought a plant into the office at Brown Alumni Magazine, the entire staff all stood around talking about it. Someone in the group produced a ruler and stuck it into the pot to measure the flower stem. For days after that, regular updates could be heard in the office: "It's grown another inch!"

An early inspiration for this holiday tradition was a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 

in Boston. If you visit the museum in December—and you really should—each stone window sill is lined with red amaryllis plants in terra-cotta pots. It is an incredible sight. Just beautiful.

This year I am sharing this tradition with my daughter. Aurora loves to arrive anywhere bearing gifts—if not chocolate chip cookies, then an amaryllis will do. I buy the bulbs and we plant them. I have so much fun sharing this with her. Maybe I'll have to take her to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum this year and share my original inspiration.

Amaryllis Bulbs

You Grow Girl

Amaryllis Bulb Company

White Flower Farm

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