Metroplex gardeners need to give a tip of the Big Tex-size hat to the men and women who make up the nursery industry locally. They're an amazing group of people and talents, and it goes a lot deeper than you probably realize. I thought you might enjoy knowing just a little bit more about how the things you choose and use found their way to your cart and into your gardens.Let's start behind the scenes. Manufacturers and growers produce those truckloads of horticultural treasures you see on the highways this time of the year. Some of those companies are local. There are several very large wholesale nurseries in Fort Worth/Dallas and into East Texas. Similarly, there are several bedding plant growers with scores, even hundreds of greenhouses within an hour of your favorite nursery.Many fertilizers are custom-blended at plants in the North Central Texas area, and several huge recycling/composting facilities turn out those wonderful landscaping soils and soil amendments. Concrete paving stones are made locally. Mulches of various sorts are primarily of Texas origin, and expanded shale is produced close to home as well.Stepping just a bit farther outside our immediate Metroplex area, South and East Texas, California, Oregon, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida ship giant quantities of tree and shrub stock to North Texas nurseries. Growers receive microplugs of bedding plants from laboratory-like greenhouses hundreds, even thousands of miles away. They're shipped overnight, and potted by noon the next day. One box that a 5-year-old could easily carry may contain many thousands of little periwinkle plugs in thimble-size pots, many hundreds per tray.Sod is primarily grown in Texas, although some does make its way across the Red River into North Texas. Some of it is trucked to retail nurseries in the spring. Some goes to dedicated sod yards that sell nothing but turfgrass. Much goes directly to job sites of landscape contractors. Sod is usually dug late in the day and trucked overnight, so it will be waiting to be planted early the next morning. Buy fresh sod, and turn the pieces over to look for any evidence of nutsedge "nutlets" that have been chopped by the sod cutter. Do not buy sod that is contaminated with nutsedge.And on to the greatest distance our nursery goods travel: Much of the gloriously colorful large pottery you see in nurseries and water garden shops was made in Vietnam. Spring-flowering bulbs still come from Holland, and one of America's largest distributors is based right here in the Metroplex. In fact, that same distributor handles a huge percentage of the world's caladium tubers each year. Flower and vegetable seeds are bred and produced all over the world. Much of the seed production is still based in southern California, but those same companies have farms in Central America, Japan and elsewhere.Large distribution houses in Fort Worth, Dallas and their suburbs act as receiving points for nursery "hard goods." They maintain inventory of everything from fertilizers and pots to pest-control products, mulches, tools and other supplies. There is another group of distributors that handles exclusively power equipment. You drive by their warehouses, and you're probably not even aware that they're filled (this time of year) with all manner of mowers, tillers, trimmers, edgers, chainsaws and more.Sales representatives who call on nurseries are some of the least visible people in the entire industry, yet they're the ones who make the matches among manufacturers, distributors and retailers. They're conversant with the latest products and plants, yet odds are you won't see them unless some special promotion is going on.That takes you, then, to the local retail nursery. Many people shop at national chains, sometimes for price, sometimes for breadth of supply. However, local independent retailers also have special things to offer. They're local businesspeople, invested in the community. They know local conditions, and they buy plants and products that fit customers' needs. They're also good sources of less common products, such as unusual plants or specialized pest-control products. Best of all, these "mom-and-pop" nurseries have different personalities, and that's what makes nursery shopping fun.Local retail nurseries are also where you'll find the greatest concentration of Texas Certified and Texas Master Certified Nursery Professionals. These are men and women who are the best nursery advisers Texas has to offer.The weather is great. Nurseries are filled. Let this be the time you make the journey to nurseries you've not visited before. And don't be afraid to drive a few miles in the process. You owe it to yourself, and to your landscape.Neil Sperry publishes "Gardens" magazine and hosts "Texas Gardening" from 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays on WBAP AM/FM. Reach him during those hours at 800-288-9227 or 214-787-1820.