The trend setters of the plant world with Chris Eakins

The trend setters of the plant world with Chris Eakins

By Misty Gil, Posted in
October 24, 2022





There is no better person on the Myatt Team to talk about plant trends, than the guy who sources most of the trees and shrubs that Myatt Landscaping and Construction installs. Vice-President Chris Eakins is that guy. We sat down with Chris to find out what he is seeing in the nurseries and what does the best in the landscapes we install.


Chris says that his favorite shrub is Osmanthus Fortunei. If you have ever walked through the NC State campus in October, you know where it gets that name. It is one of the sweetest smelling shrubs and the scent travels on a breeze very well. Chris says that they are bullet proof unless they have wet feet. You may also know them as tea olives.

His next shrub pick is ‘Duke Gardens’ yew. This shrub was discovered at Duke gardens, so it is rooted right here in North Carolina. The amazing thing about yews in general is that deer won’t touch them. This variety is a slow grower and only get 2-4’ tall and wide and tolerates summer heat and humidity better than other yews.

It is no surprise if you notice recent landscape installs that Distylium is on the list of preferred shrubs. ‘Vintage Jade’ and ‘Cinnamon Girl’, both coming in at around 3-4’ tall, is top of the list right now. These are good foundation plantings and require minimal pruning.

If you are looking for a replacement for liriope, which can make a landscape look dated, Carex is the way to go, Chris says. This grass is low growing and comes in a variety of colors from copper, yellow, bronze and green with some having different variations of variegation. There are varieties of carex to fit almost any condition including dry, shady, wet, full sun ect.

As far as trees, Chris likes oaks. He says that ‘Overcup’ and ‘Nutall' oaks are what he is sourcing regularly and that he likes the look of, and the longevity once installed. ‘Overcup’ gives a nice fall color of a rich yellow and grows to 45-70’ tall with a 45’ spread. These trees are good for an urban environment to give shade and tolerates inhospitable soils well. ‘Nutall’ grows to 60’ with a 45’ spread and gives a red fall color and lend themselves to poor soils and an urban environment. ‘Trident’ Maple and Chinese Pistache trees are also tried and true in the area according to Chris. Both trees turn beautiful shades of orange/red in the fall, and they both get to about 25’.

Chris says a new issue has started to crop up on select older crape myrtles. A staple in this part of the world as a good understory tree, crape myrtles are found in most landscapes, but crape myrtle scale is starting to be detected. The good news is that it has not shown to kill the tree, but rather turn the leaves a black color. At fist glance, it looks like sooty mold. Chris says another understory option would be the Chinese Fringe tree. In the spring it is a showstopper for its cascades of flowers, through summer the leaves are a glossy dark green, and then it gives yellow foliage in the fall. It can handle a wide range of soil conditions and only grows to 12 to 15’ tall. ‘Tokyo Tower’ is a popular variety.