This is not your average garden shop—In the Country Garden & Gifts carries some plants that many people would recognize, but specializes in the rare and remarkable. “We want to be a fun, inspiring place where gardeners can come to get good advice, find new and interesting plants that are not commonly found in traditional garden centers, and see unique ideas they can replicate in their own garden,” said Josh Spece, co-owner of the business.
Josh and his mother Sue opened the business in 1998 on the family farm. In late summer of 2011, they relocated to Quasqueton Diagonal Boulevard (W35), Independence, a much easier-to-find location. This spring, they will finish the move into a bigger greenhouse, bigger outdoor growing and sales area, bigger gift shop, and bigger, established display garden.
The Speces’ experience with gardening dates back 30 years. Growing up, Josh always joined his mother when she was working in the garden. He started with his own little corner of the vegetable garden; gradually, his interest shifted from vegetables to flowers. “We installed our first pond about 20 years ago, and my grandma got me hooked on hostas soon after that,” said Josh. He graduated from Hawkeye Community College in 2000 with an AAS in Horticulture.
Today, In the Country is best known for its large selection of unusual hostas (lily-like plants known for their beautiful foliage). “Many hosta collectors come to us for the newest hosta introductions,” said Josh. ”We work with industry professionals to offer the hostas from around the world. In the near future we plan to begin introducing our own, exclusive hosta varieties.”
Josh received the Best New Author award in 2008 from the American Hosta Society for his contributions to their publication, The Hosta Journal. He also travels all over Eastern Iowa speaking about hostas, water gardens, and succulents for garden clubs, master gardeners, and various symposiums and other garden-related events.
In addition to hostas, the business carries water plants and a full range of pond supplies. The plants include hardy and tropical water lilies and a wide variety of bog plants, lotuses, and floating plants. It also carries succulents and shade perennials. “Our nursery and garden shop is more than a store, it is an experience. Visitors can spend hours browsing our nursery and exploring our large display garden,” said Josh.
The gift shop is filled with unique gift items and garden décor, including many metal and iron pieces, garden stakes, and statuary.
The business also often hosts workshops, classes, and events such as bubble-scape workshops, succulent garden workshops, hyper-tufa and papercrete trough workshops, and a Hosta & Dessert Social. They also remain active in the community—in the spring of 2011, they donated a portion of their Spring Open House sales to Buchanan County Relay for Life. “My grandfather (Sue’s father) passed away in December of 2010 from cancer and we wanted to do something in honor of him,” explained Josh. “We also regularly donate to local school and hospital fundraisers, community fundraisers, and American Hosta Society fundraisers.” Josh serves on the board of directors as the web editor for the American Hosta Society. He is also webmaster for the Eastern Iowa Pond Society and the Russ O’Harra Hosta Society.
In the Country joined the Co-op Connections Program to further support the community and help local shoppers find and shop with them. They offer Co-op Connections Card holders 10% off purchases of $25 or more. This is also valid for orders made online using coupon code “coop.”
To learn more or purchase plants online, visit In the Country’s Web site at www.inthecountrygardenandgifts.com. Visit their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/inthecountry) for the latest on new products, what’s going on at In the Country, tips and ideas, and monthly contests.