I first saw these a few years ago around Christmas time at Pendleton's, and have made sure to get some every year since.
Their common name is, um, not really appropriate for a family blog. (Hushed whisper: They're called monkey balls.) But they're actually a type of milkweed pod that dries up really well. Flower Garden Girl has a post about growing them--maybe I should try that next year?
I'd have to come up with a new name to call them though--I can just see it now!
Stranger walking in my garden: "Hey, what are these neat-o plants?"
Me: "Oh, they're primate genitalia."
Kidding aside, they really do deserve a better name, as they're such a cool, sculptural looking plant. Maybe I can call them "Christmas Lanterns"?