i really like it when my val lies on the water surface, i think it frames the tnak nicely. of course there is a limit to that, and you don't want to shade your other plants.
50gal planted - yoyo loaches, BNs, odessa barbs, giant danios
33gal planted - praecox rainbows, gold ram, bolivian rams, sparkling gouramis, licorice gouramis, lots of shrimp
2 x 5gal planted - bettas