Lighted Steel Hoops

I don’t remember how long ago it was that Rob began experimenting with attaching lights to steel forms, but I would guess it was at least 10 years ago. There was a series of steel augurs, wound with rope lights, and hung from stout branches in the linden trees. Any farm tool was fair game. This was in the very early days of our winter and holiday season, so Rob haunted every store within driving distance for different kinds of exterior lighting.
There were galvanized steel pipes of varying lengths completely covered with light strands. They were threaded over a solid pipe that had been driven in to the ground. The quality of these incandescent light strings was on the poor side, and they furthermore required a lot of electricity to run. LED outdoor lighting was in its infancy, and the harsh bluish light was reminiscent of gas station bathroom lighting. Light to be interrogated by, as it were. There were winter arrangements that had lighting wound around the pots. There was a phase when he made his own lighting by assembling cords and bulbs bought one at a time. There were galvanized buckets with lights, greens and cones. Set it on your porch, plug it in, and celebrate the winter. Rob never was one for overly elaborate or complicated displays. He likes simple and casually striking. There were winter container arrangements that had light strings as mulch. Strands of C-7 and C-9 lights were piled high. Eventually we had to upgrade all of our existing exterior circuits to 20 amps each, and we added more circuits for good measure. We were lit.

Sooner or later, something solid was bound to come from all of his tinkering. The day he came home with a pair of vintage wagon wheels that he wound round with lights, and hung in the airspace in the shop, I could tell something was in the air. There was something about that circle of light that was as satisfying as it was fascinating. A client bought them both in short order. That winter, he spent a lot of time designing a steel hoop especially engineered to hold and securely capture the lights, and we manufactured them in different sizes.
A year later, he designed an integral stand for the rings. This meant they could be securely inserted into a pot, or in the ground. In the air, or in the ground-you can take your pick, or do both. By this time, he had found an LED lighting line that he liked. The lighted hoops were a winter decoration that could be enjoyed year after year. Three years in to the lighted hoop manufacture, he suggested that perhaps it was time to move on to another shape. I was incredulous. That circle of light was so simple, so visually striking and so easy to use, I couldn’t imagine him giving it up. So we have fine tuned the engineering, and continued to make them. Jackie has shipped them all over the US and Canada. To gardeners, and not gardeners. To designers, florists, and restaurateurs. A sure sign of a great design, they adapt instantly to any setting.

Clients for whom we do winter pots ask for them now, and we are happy to oblige. That ring of light features the fixings in a winter centerpiece in an elegant and stunning way.

Rob manufactures them in sizes starting with a 2 foot diameter, on up to a 7 footer. Pictured above is a 5 foot diameter light ring. Since the lights are on the outside of the hoop, we sometimes install string lighting at the bottom of the centerpiece, and or in the greens.

The sculptural quality of the hoops make them a design asset even during the day. I have no idea how many hoops Rob has out there now, but there are lots. Every time I see one, I think about his long term interest in lighting the garden and landscape in the winter. He tells me he enjoys seeing the work of others fabricating their own version of lighted hoops. It is a testament to a great idea that variations on this theme have sprouted in other places by other people. To follow are pictures of winter arrangements new and old that feature his light rings. They are all different in execution, and all the same in their successful effort to keep the winter dark at bay.

See what I mean?


  1. Barbara Ottolino says

    Hard to imagine how each post can be better than the previous ones, but you always top yourself. Having been involved in the creation and writing of a highly technical book, I see paragraphs of a book here and there among your posts. It’s all coming together.
    Thinking of you enjoying a well deserved rest, hoping all your lucky customers containers and garlands are behind you for the winter season, and that you have plenty of show to drape your landscape at home and at the shop. Best wishes.

  2. After being entranced by your hoops in last year’s winter blogs, I purchased one of your lighted hoops last summer while on a trip to Michigan. As with all your products, I love it. It’s centered in my backyard and looks magical when surrounded by snow as it will be this Christmas Day. Thanks to you, Rob, and Jackie for pulling it out in July especially for me.

  3. HollyAnn Tetreault says

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful work! I love reading your blog! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and pictures. Happy Holidays! ☺️

  4. Incredible imagination and artistic style! What a gem Rob is!!

  5. Those hoops are great assets to any gardener or person who wants to elegantly give the winter dark a run for its money! I sometimes pull one or two out during the warm months – why not, good design should be utilized and enjoyed all the year long! Thank you Rob for continuing to experiment and create!

  6. Thank you so much for this origin story- It’s always great to hear about that spark that creates the idea. You and Rob make a great team.

  7. Cindy Lupica says

    Years ago, before I followed your blog, I rolled home a steel patio table top. The glass was long gone and the ring had been removed from the base. My husband was on the walk with me and he refused to help me, calling the ring a piece of junk. The ring sat behind my garage for a long time, until I saw your beautiful light rings. Without my husband’s knowledge, I strung lights on that ring and hung it from an opening on my front porch. It has never come down and he has added more lights to it. Everyone raves about the ring light. Thank you for your inspiration.

  8. Pat Ferguson says

    Inspired by your blog and beautiful pictures, I purchased one of your hoops two years ago. It shines year round in an urn on my front porch. I love pulling in my driveway to the beautiful light!

  9. Yolanda First says

    You do beautiful work and thank you for sharing ,your work encourages me to try winter pots,.

  10. Your hoops inspired me this year. So I took my old hoop wood holder and turned it into a lighted ring display by twisting garland around it and then fairy lights around that, put a window box at the bottom in the center and added greenery and then some pussy willow branches and beaded branches sticking straight up from the center. Propped the whole thing on my outdoor potting bench in the side yard and we can see the lighted display from every window on the east side of our house. First try, I give it a “C+ to a B-” but hope to improve upon the idea next year. Thanks for the inspiration Rob.

  11. Candice in Georgetown says

    Just stunning! You post to the Toronto area?!

  12. Deborah,
    Thank you to you both for continually creating beautiful inspired garden design.
    I looking forward to ordering a few for my garden in California.
    I always enjoy reading your blog posts.

  13. The light rings add such a lovely element to your planters. I never thought your planters could be improved upon, but you’ve managed to do it. Great job!

  14. Linda Lawrence says

    Deborah: Thank you once again for sharing your incredible expertise and being so generous! Love everything you post and you have my utmost admiration for the quality of your work and your knowledge !!! Thank You and Merry Christmas!

  15. Just stunning!

  16. M. A. Jaworski Landscape Design says

    Simple and stunning! Congratulations to you and Rob for such a beautiful concept – I will recommend it to my landscape design clients. Up here in the frozen North (Ottawa, Canada) we have long, deep, dark winters and your lighted design conveys all the hope of the spring, and renewal to come. Especially welcome during this year! All best seasonal wishes to you and your colleagues, from M. A. Jaworski Landscape Design.

  17. The last pic reminds me of the Star of Bethlehem. Amazing work, DGW! Merry Christmas ❤️

  18. mollie duvall says

    Deborah, I love the addition of greens to the hoops! I noticed them when I visited the shop a few weeks ago, in addition to the ones in these images. Can you tell me, are the short pieces of greenery wired on, piece by piece? The store looks magnificent, as usual. Thank you for sharing so generously. Wishing you and the entire staff a peaceful holiday season.

  19. The hoops idea is just so beautiful. How do I purchase them from you?

  20. Deborah Hall says

    Thanks for the inspiration and the tools to make it happen. Jackie sent two 3 foot hoops, one for hanging and the other for a 4 foot ogling planter. I love them! Wish I could sent a photo, added so much bling to the garden!

  21. Lisa Swanson says

    I love these! Four weeks ago I looked on your web site to purchase some. For some reason, nothing would go in a basket where I could check out and pay. Maybe this next year I can purchase.

  22. Janice Sisson says

    The picture with the hoop hanging in the window. How did you camouflage the extension cord? Would love to hang my own but hate the look of extension cords hanging down the wall! Love your designs.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Janice, the cord is at the bottom, behind the flame willow,. When we hang them in trees, we have the cord at the top of the ring, concealed in multistrand jute, We then run the cord across the branch to the main trunk, and down the main trunk to the ground. Hope this is clear. best, Deborah

  23. Always inspiring. Amazing. Thanks. Best to you

  24. Brilliant lighting and Brilliant idea. Thank you for the inspiring story.

  25. Mary Anne Staker says

    I am blown away with the amount of creativity that you have!So inspiring!You have definitely opened my eyes to things I have been thinking about!Thank you so much for sharing these stunning works of art!

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