I like this kid already, enthusiastic, does some homework, I think he will make a fine planted tank-er, to coin a phrase. :roll:
Try some Sag subulata in the background, there is a some that grows a little taller and will give you that look that you wanted from the Val.
Microsword does nicely in a 10 gallon tank, it likes being close to the light, you might want to take a look at the hairgrasses, they are a little easier to get started than the microsword.
Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.
It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.
That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".