Had to do some work on the driftwood. Ended up using Gorilla Glue to attach the base to a piece of slate, which raised it out of the water a tiny bit:
I can live with it, I think. And the glue should hold long enough til everything is fully water logged. (I know, I know - I should have attached it in the beginning or pre-soaked it for a few weeks.)
Finally seeing some melt on the C. petchii, should be seeing new growth by the time the tank is cycled:
Hoping this creates a neat effect once the H. sibthorpioides thickens up:
Still planning to order more C. parva and want to add a couple more colorful Crypts to the area around the C. petchii.
Note: No, I won't be leaving the ugly thermometer in that spot - will eventually hide it behind the filter intake.