But 'Southern Belle' fell out of favor with me for its stem flop, and seeming inability to support its many stems. After all, I reasoned, there must be others with better stem strength and perhaps a more compact character.
For sheer flower power along with fragrance and the added drama of near-black stems, 'Solar Flare', bred by Itsaul Plants, gets my vote. Perky petals that start out reaching for the sky relax into a flat stance surrounding a deep rust-red cone. It smells like a rose, and the flowers age gracefully, good for any living thing.
But "the Supremes" might give the doubles another aspect I'm lacking so far. A Terra Nova Nurseries introduction, the Supreme series includes three cultivars bred for compact habit, superior branching, saturated color and fragrance.
It's not like fingernails on a blackboard bothersome, but I'll be moving the pink phlox away from the grouping, perhaps replacing it with another shade of phlox or perhaps something else entirely. So many choices...