'Cone' was the only word I could think of to describe this structure! So I brought it home and it's stayed in it's pot while I decide what to do with it. Kobakoba say that it should be hardy (certainly with me) and I mean no disrespect to them when I say that I'm going to take cuttings before I risk it! Still, sure enough the pink flowers appeared soon after, and the plant got even weirder!
There's something about the individual flowers that remind me of Anigozanthos (Kangaroo Paws), but the whole effect is largely indescribable! Needless to say that a number of these flowering.... 'things' on a small and nondescript shrubby/ herbaceous mound make for a very unusual and distinctive plant. Mine is about 1ft (30cm) tall and seems to be making no attempt to grow taller. According to a quick search on Google, Justicia carnea is native to South America and has some medicinal value.