More than a quarter of Britons say that they can already see the effects of climate change on their gardens.

The most obvious sign, according to the survey published yesterday by the Waste and Resources Programme, is earlier blooming bulbs, while nearly a quarter also reported an increase in the amount of garden waste.

Nearly half said they have to mow their lawns earlier in the season, and a third noticed their lawns had to be cut more frequently.

Dr David Reay, of the Institute of Atmospheric and Environmental Science at Edinburgh University, said: "As a gardener, as well as a climate change expert, I can vouch for the changes. I am having to mow my lawn earlier and more often.

"And there is much less rain. I collect rainwater for the garden but there's only been one day this year that there was enough rain to fill one of the three butts in my garden.

"The evidence is everywhere. Hawthorn trees flowered three weeks early this spring. Winters are shorter and summers longer. And in the future it's just going to get hotter. A rise of three degrees is predicted in Scotland by the end of this century making drinkable Scottish wine a very real prospect.

"And we will lose some native species like alpine plants, which will be replaced by new ones as they move northwards from England."

Annmarie Hammond, 70, from Edinburgh, said she has noticed the effects of climate change on her garden.

She said: "We go away for a month each year to Tenerife. When I got back at the beginning of February I had to cut the grass, about a month earlier than usual. Things have flowered about two weeks earlier and one plant, farfugium, which normally dies in the winter, didn't. It's the first time I have seen that.

"And I've never had so much frog spawn. The milder weather seems to have affected breeding, too.

"I wouldn't say I'm overly concerned about the effects of climate change right now, but the longer term is worrying."

The survey revealed that the gardeners' main concern for the future was that water shortages were going to become more common, meaning their gardens would need more attention.

More than a third believed some native plants would no longer flourish and a further third said they would be able to grow a greater range of plants.

Around half of the gardeners surveyed said they understood the role recycling garden waste plays in combating climate change, but only a third said they regularly produce home compost.

TV Gardener Diarmuid Gavin urged gardeners to take measures to help combat the effects of climate change. He said: "Choosing peat-free composts which contain recycled materials is a great way to keep waste out of landfill and stop rotting it down to potentially create harmful greenhouse gases.

"Home composting is also easy and can cut down your average household bin by about 30%"

The milder weather has led some garden centres to take in a wider selection of species. Susan Moore, head of buying at Dobbies Garden Centres, said plants which would not have survived in Scottish gardens 10 years ago, such as palm trees and tree ferns, are becoming a more common sight.

She added: "The key spring season for gardeners has certainly started earlier in line with the milder and drier weather. Customers have bought plants and bedding much earlier, a trend we have seen emerge over the last couple years.

"Garden furniture, barbecues, patio heaters and outdoor lighting are more popular than they have ever been."

Growing trend

Top ways in which gardeners say they help the environment:

  • 34% do regular home composting.
  • 30% have a water butt to recycle rain water.
  • 20% grow their own fruit and vegetables.
  • 19% use peat-free composts.