Using Ornamental shrubs, bulbs, woody plants and small trees to enhance your herb garden.
I designed my herb garden around an existing natural structure made from a cedar tree that was arched naturally by nature. It adds height and dimension to the herb garden and serves as a focal point. Honeysuckle rambles over the arch along with a hanging cast iron pot planted with nasturtiums, which provides color and food for the bees and hummingbirds. Johnson blue geraniums provide a striking contrast to the pink & yellow of the honeysuckle. A Variegated weigela resides in the corner that is exposed to the most intense sunlight. It is a compact ornamental shrub with beautiful pink and white flowers literally covering the branches in June for about four weeks. It continues to add interest after blooming due to its variegated foliage of creamy white leaves trimmed with green, while providing necessary light shade for the plants that can't take full sun.
Here are other ways you can enhance your garden.
Non-herbs like poppies, ornamental sages and ornamental grasses combine well with herbs, with the added bonus of creating interest. Planting bright orange or red poppies next to the yellow yarrow, (coronation gold for one) or the various shades of purple lavender will certainly create a stunning display. Evergreens, such as boxwood and small leafed Japanese hollies can provide a neat hedge for a more formal look. Junipers and yews can provide a hedge or focal point in the center of the garden. Be sure, however, to buy dwarf evergreens that that will grow to a sensible height when mature so not to over powering the garden in the future. Small shrubs for adding height and shade are rose bushes, lilacs, hydrangeas, red twig dogwood or a linden tree. The linden tree bears flowers that make a very good tea, I am told. If you have a seating area in the garden, these flowering trees and shrubs will add fragrance as well as shade.
Bulbs can add early spring color to your herb garden. I found that daffodils work best mainly because I have a mole problem and the moles seem to leave them alone. Tulips and lilies are `munched' up the first year. Additionally, daffodils unlike tulips can be cut back immediately after blooming for a cleaner appearance.
Underplanting allows you to get full use of your garden space and adds interest with varying layers of plants textures and colors. Plant lemon balm under a shrub rose to help deter rose pests. Various other mints work as well, but are very invasive plants and I prefer to keep them contained. Lemon balm is more easily controlled.
When underplanting tree or shrubs with herbs, prepare the soil well by adding compost and be sure to water frequently. You will find pockets of soil near the trunk of established trees where there is less root activity.
When planting a hedge around your garden, keep in mind that you need access paths and plant accordingly.