AFTER the Christmas excess, it's time to blow away the cobwebs and find some inspiration on winter walks. The experts reveal their favourite gardens to visit at this time of year - which will also provide inspiration for 2015

It's time to put down those left-over mince pies, don your walking boots and take a bracing walk through a winter garden bursting with vibrant stem colour, interesting barks, blossoming bulbs and wafts of winter scent.

Some walks should provide plenty of inspiration to gardeners. RHS curators Colin Crosbie, from RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, and Paul Cook, from RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, offer their own favourite winter gardens to explore...

Paul Cook recommends:

* RHS Garden Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire (

"This year at Harlow Carr we've extended our existing winter walk, which runs east to west to catch the best of the morning and late afternoon sun which lights up the fiery stems and outlines the sculptural shapes of the bare trees. Clipped yew and a backbone of conifers and berrying shrubs lend a formal tone to the vibrant cornus and salix stems, Iris reticulata and daphnes under-planted with heathers. The walk becomes less formal as it leads into the beautiful mature woodlands, where giant trees are outlined against the wintry sky and snowdrops, winter aconite cluster below and around boulders cloaked in moss and lichens."

* Dunham Massey, Cheshire (

"It would be hard to come up with a list of great winter gardens without mentioning Dunham Massey which has Britain's largest at seven acres. It provides a much-needed burst of scent and colour to walkers and garden lovers alike in the coldest months. Glowing-stemmed silver birches, acers and dogwoods are set off by shrubs and evergreens and, after Christmas, a mass of snowdrops, iris and cyclamen carpet the ground. Ornamental Japanese trees mingle with witch hazels and scents waft about the garden."

* Cambo Gardens, Scotland (

"Plenty of winter gardens are known for their snowdrops, but at Cambo in Scotland, they do things a little differently. A beautiful walled garden where the herbaceous plantings and grasses are left standing, delicate seedheads and stems outlined in frost, is a great start. It's the 70 acres of beautiful deciduous woodland full of snowdrops that is the real star attraction though. Meandering through them in late winter and early spring along the woodland stream is a pleasure not to be missed. Cambo even holds a snowdrop festival and a series of illuminated walks that light up the woodlands after dark."

Colin Crosbie recommends:

RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey (

"Our new winter walk runs through the most accessible part of Wisley, providing 10 points of interest for visitors to amble along and discover. The path winds around the lake, which is very still and reflects the trees and colourful stems. On clear days, the blaze of flame coloured cornus, salix and white-stemmed brambles are mirrored back in the water - doubling the effect. Winter is a real spectacle of glowing berries and flowers, with beautiful sweet scents, glossy peeling barks, sculptural trees and bulb circles."

Bodnant Garden, North Wales (

"Bodnant is another new winter garden and is well worth a visit. Its setting looking over the River Conwy and towards the Snowdonia range is hard to top and provides a glorious backdrop to the botanical collection. The new winter garden is set in a slight hollow so that it keeps the fragrant scents of daphnes and lonicera cupped within it and the low winter sunlight catches the vibrant stems of cornus and rubus. It also has a huge collection of snowdrops with more than 20,000 bulbs. "

Colesbourne Park, Gloucestershire (opens January 31) (

"The snowdrop collection at Colesbourne Park is probably the finest in England. But this garden has more than just snowdrops. Its well laid-out beds are also full of primulas, hellebores, cyclamen, crocus, snowflakes and aconites to add winter interest. It is ringed with woodland full of beech, Norway spruce, sycamores and maples - thinned out to make walking pleasant and a small - and famously blue - lake makes for pretty viewing. Don't miss the magnificent drift of Galanthus 'S. Arnott' that makes Colesbourne famous."