Posted: 28/06/2015 at 10:13
It's the repeated blowing away./clearing up of leaves each autumn/fall that is contributing to the poor condition of the soil structure and lack of water retention.
Resist the urge to tidy, allow the leaves to remain and decompose naturally into leaf-mould - a wonderful addition to the soil and something we all wish for to improve the soil and add to the bio-diversity - small birds will love to scratch around in the leafmould, looking for the myriad of small insects and grubs that it will provide a home for.
As Cathy43 says, one of the vincas - either minor or major, will grow happily in those conditions. It's evergreen so it will hide the fallen oak leaves while they decompose over the winter. You can cut it hard back in very early spring if it starts to get too rampant, and there's a variegated form if you want even more colour than the pretty blue star-like flowers will provide.
When the soil condition has improved, you could try some Sarcocca confusa there as well https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/16452/Sarcococca-confusa/Details (check for hardiness in your area) which will give you lovely scent in the late winter/early spring.