Book Review

The Cactus Surgeon: Using Nature to Fix a Faulty Brain – Hannah Powell

I have the honour today of joining the blog tour for The Cactus Surgeon by Hannah Powell. Many thanks to Hannah for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.


Living in London, Hannah suffered burnout and was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder. With no information available to help her, she found her own way to get better.

Growing up in a garden centre, her childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of the capital, where she became unwell. In searching for the answers to her illness, she wonders whether being torn from her pot and replanted in a more hostile environment was the reason her body started to malfunction.

After seeking out alternative therapies, and moving to the countryside of North Essex, her ‘green recovery’ continued.

It’s a book of mindful moments, savouring the small wonders of nature.


Well, I certainly got more than I bargained for with this book! I had expected a gentle book full of tips on mindfulness and the ways in which being outside can help improve mental health, and while it is that in part, it is also so very much more. The Cactus Surgeon is a raw, emotional read in which Hannah bravely lays herself and her struggles wide open. I can imagine that writing this book was incredibly cathartic. A lot of the emotions that Hannah experienced on the path to diagnosis and beyond really resonated with me, and I found reading about her experiences quite inspiring.

The Cactus Surgeon is a love story, both to Hannah’s family and the family business, and to the outside world as a whole. Beautiful photos separate each chapter and her lush descriptions of a huge variety of flora and fauna made me yearn for warmer weather, while her adventures in Australia and New Zealand ignited a long dormant travel bug.

The Cactus Surgeon was exactly the book I needed to read at this moment in my life, so thank you Hannah, so much, for sharing your story. I will be checking out many, if not all, of the books you recommend in bibliography.


Hannah Powell (née Bourne) is Communications and HR Director for the Perrywood Garden Centres she runs with her dad and two brothers. When she was six years old, she wanted to be a cactus surgeon.

Before coming back into the family business, she had a successful career in PR and marketing, running high-profile campaigns for clients, including Barclaycard and Domino’s Pizza. She was part of the team that launched Global Entrepreneurship Week, an annual campaign to encourage young people to set up businesses worldwide.

She now lives in North Essex with her husband, daughter and many plants.






Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the tour!

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