Answer: Trees and shrubs are prompted by mild weather to break dormancy and begin to leaf out. Leaf and flower buds have an outer coating which will help protect them from mild cold snaps, but nothing to protect them from hard freezes or late snows. In those years when winter is mild and there is a late season snow or ice storm, the tender new leaves or swollen leaf or flower buds will die back. A healthy tree or shrub will replace these leaves and be none the worse for wear. Flower buds are not always replaced, but the plant will generally flower on schedule the following spring. There's really nothing a gardener can do - other than hope the weather remains mild!
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