As a gardener and a naturalist, I find March a month of hope and promise: Hope that the rains will continue and promise that plants will emerge, grow and prosper. In the Piedmont woodlands, spring ephemeral wildflowers have returned. The diminutive yellow and maroon trout lily is abundant on hillsides, the pale blue Hepatica dances delicately above the three-lobed, liver-shaped leaves from which it gets its name and spring beauties open their pink-tinged white cups along the stream edges on sunny afternoons.In the vegetable garden, seeds planted in February and early March poke through the soil and forecast a harvest of peas, radishes, lettuce, spinach and kale over the next three months. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, green onions and cilantro planted in the fall still grace our table. We eagerly await the first spears of asparagus forcing their tight heads up out of the heavily mulched beds.In the orchard, my husband, David, and I have daily conversations with the peach tree, instructing it not to open its bright pink flowers until the last frost. It's not listening. The apple trees are better behaved and are staying dormant, at least for now. The blueberries are loaded with buds that fatten daily, making visions of juicy pies swirl in my head.In the perennial garden daffodils spread their cheer across the beds still dominated by the brown carpet of mulch. Lilies and Siberian iris are beginning to press their green leaves up into the sunlight, and the dwarf iris are already opening. Early blooming shrubs like daphne, with its lemon-scented pink and white clusters of flowers, are a treat that began in February. The tips of the tulip magnolia swell, and I like to stand by the tree and rub their velvety plump buds against my cheek. I look forward to the time soon when I can cut a few of the lower branches, bring them into the house, and watch the fragrant purple and white blooms unfurl.Inside the house, flats of tiny tomatoes, peppers and eggplants reach their small leaves toward the grow lights. We are busy eating up the tomato sauce, roasted peppers, purple hull peas, and frozen green beans packed into the freezer last summer, before the spring vegetables begin to fill the fridge and table.I'm thrilled as I walk through the woods to see that the creeks are up from recent rains. I hope that they will keep flowing. In the meantime, every barrel and bucket we own is filled to the brim with rainwater and we are pondering installing a cistern off the garden shed and multiple rain barrels at every downspout on the house. Despite the drought, we have faith that the plants that surround us and make our home a haven will continue to grow and hope that everyone's garden will thrive in the coming months.