I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!
I am not able to know specifically what is wrong with your shrubs based on that description but the progression points somewhat toward the cause being a root rot. I suggest you take some photos and perhaps a dying plant sample to your County Extension Office and see if they can identify the problem and if necessary prescribe an appropriate remedy.
Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!
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