what the heck is that?
When I bought my first house, about twelve years ago, it had a couple of smallish flower gardens. One of them was a bit overgrown. The other was a narrow strip alongside the garage, that was completely overgrown. The only evidence that it actually had been a garden was the row of bricks as edging. I decided I'd clean it up and put in some flowers. I dug it all up, yanked out the grass and weeds, added some soil, and replaced the bricks in a nice line. This was where I learned a couple of lessons about weeds. You know how they say that weeds are only plants you don't want? After I cleared it out, there was a weed that kept coming back. I thought it was kind of interesting, so I left some of it. It had an interesting spot in the middle of each leaf, and the little red and white flower clusters were kinda nice. It wasn't too long before I could see that it would easily get out of hand. I'm sure many of you recognize this as ladyfingers. It was a plant I wanted... but not that much! And you can't have only a little bit. It quickly became a weed, so away it went (as best I could keep it away). That was the second lesson - sometimes they really are weeds, no matter how attractive they are. The other weed was really odd. It had a big green balloon on the end of it, and it had these spikes. Not a very attractive looking plant, and it was a weed, so I pulled it. Interesting looking, though, so I took a picture. Every once in a while, I remember it and wonder what it was. And wish I hadn't pulled it. That was the first lesson - find out what it is before you get rid of it (just keep it under control until you find out). Last week I was thinking I'd dig up that picture and ask you guys what that weird spiky ball was. Tonight, when I was out walking, I saw a similar plant. I took a picture, and I know you guys can tell me what it is. These plants are about a foot tall. The blue flowers in the background are what these buds open into (didn't take a picture of them, but you can see the color). This is Wisconsin, zone 5. All of the leaves are these spikes that you see around the buds, though they're branchy and denser near the bottom. The larger buds are over an inch and a half high.