It started with Burpee owner George Ball declaring that "The Rose Blows", and campaigning to have the sunflower declared our national flower instead. Then Judy Lowe took issue with Ball's description of the U.S. as "botanically barren." (Yeah, I wondered about that myself.) And Tom Alexander added to the story this tidbit: seed-growers lobbied for marigolds but narrowly last to the rose back in the '80s when the flower-naming took place. Veddy interesting.
So here's my contribution to the debate: Yes, lots of roses DO blow and I can't imagine growing the sickly ones. So if we want a plant that's always easy to grow, I nominate a flower just as cheerful as the sunflower but far more garden-sized – the rudbeckia species, especially the medium-sized Black-eyed Susan. Not coincidentally, Maryland's state flower. And not usually grown from seed – sorry, George!