In the spring of 2019 I planted 5 plugs of Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea, also known by the less appealing common name of Golden Ragwort) in our shady Back Garden. Some two years later, Judy and I are happy with the results.
First, there are the flowers. The catalogs say the bloom period is May/June but here the flowers have started at the beginning of May and lasted through the end of the month. This is a plant that looks really good close up or at a distance. The individual yellow blooms are small, but collectively they form sort of golden haze. The bigger the patch, the bigger the visual impact.
Seeing the almost leafless 2′ flower stems standing so straight is also very satisfying for some reason. The Missouri Botanic Garden website describes this plant as weedy, but that strikes me as unfair.
Second, this plant spreads quickly, by both seed and rhizome, which is a virtue when you have a bunch of bare ground. And it seems to cover the ground effectively, though taller robust plants like ferns can grow up through it. You can cut back the spent flowers if you want to slow the spread.
Golden Groundsel is a remarkably adaptable plant. Its normal habitat is in moist soil, but it is thriving in a shady spot in our garden that gets pretty dry in summer. It prefers acidic conditions but seems quite happy in our alkaline soil. P. aurea‘s native range extends through most of eastern North America.
Native bees are attracted to this plant, including little Carpenter Bees, Cuckoo Bees, and Halictid Bees.
The heart-shaped leaves remain attractive after the flowers are done.
All in all, a garden-worthy wildflower that should be more widely used, especially in shade.