Define budbreak, please:

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Arrow points to the edge of the scale that only recently contained and protected this rose shoot. Now the shoot's absorbed water, busted out and will expand to reveal itself as branch and leaf. That bud's broken -- the season's begun and no going back! 

Because we'd like to make a date!

So many pruning books and a lot of your articles here, say "just before budbreak." So what is budbreak, exactly and when can we expect it? - D.C. -

When the protective scales that formed in fall to enclose the buds of a tree or shrub are forced open when growth resumes in the bed, that's budbreak.

Exactly when it happens is different for each species -- Ural false spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia) is very early to leaf out, while rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is late. A gardener knows it's coming for the plant s/he's tending, when the buds begin to swell. Sometimes the twigs change color, too.

Things start hopping for us about April 1 in southeast Michigan as the majority of woody plants in our care leaf out. For our friends in Cincinnati, Ohio and Vincennes, Indiana, that period comes earlier. Budbreak comes several weeks later in gardens we're connected to in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Great grandma never had it so good. If we want to breathe spring air and see the glory of budbreak three times in one year we can drive to Cincinnati while the snow's still falling at home, return come home to catch the local show, then continue north!