Origin and History
Margil is an ancient petite French eating apple, first recorded growing in England in 1680 in Sir William Temple's gardens at East Sheen in Surrey. By the mid 18th century it was being propagated by George London of Brompton Park Nursery, who had worked at Versailles under head gardener de Quintinye and probably imported root-stock on his return. Despite this long heritage, Margil's hey-day did not arrive until the late 19th century; the renowned Victorian pomologist Robert Hogg described Margil as 'a rival of the Ribston Pippin, excelling in its juiciness and being of a better size for dessert.'
It continues to be listed under many names, including Fail-Me-Never, Small Ribston, Monymusk and Reinette Musquee.
The fruit is small in size, slightly conical and sometimes lopsided. The skin is yellow flushed with burnt orange and has broad red stripes and flecks, russet dots and grey or russet lenticels. It feels smooth and slightly greasy to the touch. The flesh is firm, coarse, yellow and juicy, described as 'sweet, and strongly aromatic in perfume and flavour.'
Picking, Storing and Using
Many apple connoisseurs maintain Margil is one of the tastiest late dessert varieties. In Herefordshire it was traditionally used to add a sweet note to cider.
Margil is best picked in early October and stores well, although the skin develops a rather greasy feel.
Growth, Flowering and Pollination
The tree is small, slender and quite weak. The small pale pink flowers open early and are therefore susceptible to frost damage. Cropping seems to vary considerably from tree to tree.
Margil is not self fertile. It is pollinated by most white-blossomed crab-apples or by other early-flowering apples such as Beauty of Bath, Discovery or Howgate Wonder.
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018