Answer: Golden privet are deciduous plants and some years they are slow to leaf out. Cracked wood indicates winter damage but can also indicate a protective bark so what looks dead may not be. However, if some are producing new shoots at the bases of the plant, the roots are still alive and you'll get new shrubs from those new shoots. Golden privet are hardy in your zone 5 so I wonder if the plants were not yet established when winter weather arrived or if you had an exceptionally cold winter this year. You said you pruned out the dead wood - did you cut into it to make sure the center tissue was dead? I hope you didn't prune too soon. Since you have already fed and pruned them, about the only thing left is to wait and see how they leaf out. Certainly you should see new growth within the next week or two. I hope they all recover. If not, you should be able to get replacement shrubs. Best wishes with your golden privets.
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