The nursery where we got this rose thirty years ago is still there! It is called Roses of Yesterday and Today and this is the link to their web page! This Mermaid rose is blooming now and we bought it there 30 or more years ago. Here is the description from their catalog:
Mermaid. Hybrid Bracteata. (1918) 15-25 feet. Yellow. Repeat Bloom. Flowers repeatedly. Zones 7-10.
One of the outstanding characters of rosedom, and one of the most beautiful . . . abandoned by most commercial nurseries for its cantankerousness in the growing field and the great cost of producing plants of it. It is equally efficient whether planted as a ground cover or climber . . . always in bloom with 5 inch, soft yellow (almost white in hot weather) single flowers with prominent gold stamens. Wild rose fragrance, attractive to bees . . . drops its spent petals so the plant, with glossy leaves, always looks clean. This was Claude Monet's favorite climber!
We were visiting this Heritage Rose nursery to find something to plant after we had failed so spectacularly with tomatoes (tomatoes had been grown here before this was a housing tract and the soil was infested with fusarium or verticillium wilt (or both!) which caused the failure of the crop.)
There was a hedge of this single yellow rose in bloom at the nursery that day. But they had sold all the potted ones they had. A nice fellow went into the back and came out with two or three dry sticks in a gallon can. "This is the only one left, but I would be embarrassed to sell you this puny one," he said. He turned out not to be THAT embarassed and charged us $17.50 for it. S would have left it there, but I really wanted it! We planted it against the fence on the east side of the back yard. It was a little slow to get started, but eventually it made a pretty show. After a few years, it needed pruning and that was quite a job as it is VERY thorny, even for a rose. Still we trimmed it, and later had a gardener trim it back every winter. Then one year it escaped onto the roof of a storage shed next door. And we thought we should do something, but didn't know quite what to do. that house is a rental and no one seemed to care. Eventually it covered the whole shed roof and pu on a glorious display, as if it had been grown for a jubilee! Then a couple of weeks ago, the neighbors cut it back to our fence. There were two huge piles on the street to be collected by the recycling truck. So no it is much smaller and a little raggedy looking, but still blooming like crazy on our side of the fence.
In celebration of things that have lasted a long time (a rose hybridized in 1918 and also, thank you, Claude Monet, for your garden!) here is another poem from the China of long ago.
LEAVE-TAKING NEAR SHOKU
Sanso, king of Shoku, built roads
They say the roads of Sanso are steep.
Sheer as the mountains.
The walls rise in a man's face,
Clouds grow out of the hill
at his horse's bridle.
Sweet trees are on the paved way of the Shin,
Their trunks burst through the paving,
And freshets are bursting their ice
in the midst of Shoku, a proud city.
Men's faces are already set,
There is no need of asking diviners
The red sun comes out of the Eastern corneras if he sprang from the bottom of the earth
It crosses heaven and sinks again in the sea
Who will say where the six dragons of his car will come to rest
Who will date its beginning and ending
Man, who art not a cardinal spirit
How shall you think to wander forever with the
unwearying sun, yourself unwearied
How shall you desire it
Yet the grass takes no thought of the wind that makes it flourish
The trees do not hate the autumn of their decline
Who by brandishing whips will hasten the course of the seasons?
Or of the myriad things that
without thought arise and decay
(701-762) mid-Tang Dynasty
Translation by Ezra Pound from The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese poetry, edited by Eliot Weinberger, page 85-86.