how long have they been in the ground? Are there only buds but no leaves?
There are a few insects that trouble burning bush. If you post a photo perhaps we will be able to help you out.
I'll try to get a photo up soon. They've been in the ground 5 or 6 years. There are some leaves, but many bare branches with these tiny buds. :(
OK. Here are four photos. Tell me what you think. There are three bushes; all of them have these same issues, but one is the worst of the three.
Lightly nick the wood and see if there is green just under the bark. If there is, your shrubs are still alive. Was this a sudden decline in the plants?
Wow - this is very curious! Have you dug around the base to see if there is any gnawing from voles?
@Douglas, most of these dead-looking branches seem to be green, and yes, a sudden decline. Last year, and years past, these things have been gorgeous! I honestly just thought maybe they were getting a "late" start.
@Walter, no, I haven't dug around the bottom. Would I know what vole gnawing looks like?
Hmmm, I thought burning bush was pretty indestructible. Can you think of anything that has changed since last year?
Not a thing. Is it time to let them go? Meaning get rid of them?
Gnawing tooth marks will be very obvious.
You could cut them way back and see what happens. At this point I don't think you have anything to lose.