pruned last fall and not showing signs of buds
I'll assume you are talking of flower buds. Depending on where you live, spring is late this year so many plants are 1-2 weeks behind schedule. Fall is not the right time to prune shrubs. For one thing, spring blooming shrubs have already set flower buds; pruning removes them. Pruning is a stimulus to plants to grow right when they should be starting the process of going dormant for winter. New growth after the pruning will not survive cold winters. The best time to prune spring-blooming shrubs is right after they bloom. For summer blooming shrubs, early spring, just as growth is beginning is preferred since most of them bloom on new branches. Hydrangea varieties have differing pruning needs and must be researched by species.