Simply, flower gardens are looking good.

The delphinium is a tall, dignified perennial that likes sunny locations. They are stately 4- to 6-foot blue-flowered plants that thrive best in groups. The original, or wild types from which modern varieties have come, are natives of California, Siberia and India.

Hollyhocks like full sunlight and grow in clumps with stems 5 to 9 feet tall that may need staking to support them in windy locations. The hollyhock had been cultivated in China for about a thousand years before it was introduced into England in 1573. The plant quickly won favor because of its long blooming period from July to early fall.

Soon after colonists reached America, many cultivated hollyhocks. They were mostly red, pink or white varieties with single flowers.

Wild blueberries are ripe. The Arrowhead region in northeastern Minnesota is popular with berry-pickers. Also areas of Warroad, International Falls, Bemidji and Hubbard County offer picking. Blueberry plants are shrubs that grow in the sandy, acidic soil in dry, open forests and clearings, and in the rocky areas of coniferous forests. The jack pine forest is prime blueberry habitat.

I visit Minnesota prairie areas many times each year, but in mid-July they are spectacular with waves of windblown grasses and colorful blooming wildflowers: butterfly milkweed, both purple and white prairie clovers, black-eyed Susans and gray-headed coneflowers. Also there are interesting birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Before Europeans arrived, the prairie covered more than one-third of what is now Minnesota. Today less than 1% of that prairie remains. These prairie remnants, and a few thousand acres of restored prairie, need our protection. They are the remaining link to a world that lived 10,000 years ago. They are gene pools for organisms that may serve us in the future.

Jim Gilbert has taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.