“Full Bloom” judges Simon Lycett, Elizabeth Cronin and Maurice Harris. Cronin owns Asrai Garden in Wicker Park and the West Loop. WICKER PARK — Asrai Garden celebrated its 21st anniversary in Wicker Park last week — but that’s not all store founder and florist Elizabeth Cronin is toasting.

Thursday marked the season finale of “Full Bloom,” a new show on HBO Max. Cronin co-judged the televised competition, which pitted 10 professional florists from across the country against each other.

While filming during the coronavirus pandemic presented challenges, Cronin said the show was well worth it.

Full of colorful and innovative bouquets, tearjerker eliminations and floral arranging tips for the audience, “Full Bloom” is the perfect show for anyone who needs a mental break from cold weather and quarantine life, Cronin said.

“We wanted to get the show out there because we thought, ‘What a gift to folks, while they continue to stay at home.’ … People want and need that right now,” she said. “It’s a lovely show. Filled with a lot of love. … Get ready not only to cry, but jump off your couch and cheer.” Recently named one of the top TV shows to watch by The New York Times , “Full Bloom” has already been renewed for a second season.

Cronin co-judged the competition alongside Maurice Harris, the owner of Los Angeles-based Bloom and Plume , and Simon Lycett, a celebrity florist .

“For me, the show was one of the best experiences of my life,” Cronin said. “I made lifelong friends and florist comrades and companions. It was really very interesting as someone who doesn’t even like to have their photo taken … seeing movie magic behind the scenes.” Filming During COVID

The show began filming in March, but it was disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic. HBO called judges, contestants and crews back to Los Angeles to complete filming during July and August.

Coronavirus safety rules applied to “Full Bloom,” Cronin said.

On set, only contestants and judges could be maskless. The show’s crew of 150 workers wore masks the entire work day, Cronin said. Everyone was tested every 48 hours. Temperature checks were taken before coming onto set and once every two hours while on set.

Off set, everyone was instructed to quarantine. The three judges actually lived together, Cronin said.

“We filmed for five weeks. We were totally fine,” Cronin said. “They really did the thing. It worked. We were able to film the show.” Elizabeth Cronin is the founder of Asrai Garden in Wicker Park and in West Loop. She co-judges an HBO Max show called “Full Bloom.” Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago Filming outdoors in southern California in July and August presented logistical challenges. Each 30-minute episode took roughly nine hours to film. The majority of work days were filmed in 100-degree weather while wildfires raged in the background.

“Not only are these folks trying not to pass out and die themselves, under extreme pressure, an extreme time crunch. … These are flowers,” Cronin said. “Flowers are not meant to be […]